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tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  July 6, 2011 12:00pm-5:00pm EDT

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the problem is the congress. the lack of a work ethic to really roll up our sleeves and dig into it. we have 16 export assistance programs just for the department of agriculture. the department of commerce, 18 different duplicative programs. department of education, 230 identical duplicative programs in different branches, and the only reason we know that is because the department of education is the only department in the federal government that actually knows all their programs. there's not one other agency who actually knows all their programs. that's why it was important to get the g.a.o. report. and we've just seen the first third of it. when we get the other two-thirds, the next third will come in february of next year, we'll have two-thirds of the federal government. you know what it will show?
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it'll show over $400,000 worming of duplication. so the problem is that we don't have enough revenue. the problem is that we're wasteful in almost everything that we do because congress won't do the appropriate oversight for the things that are legitimate roles for the federal government. and the first person that doesn't have to have any risk of no food safety, the first person doesn't have to have any risk of not having medicare or not having their social security. the first person doesn't have to have any risk if the congress will actually do its job, yet we refuse to do our job, because each one of these little programs has a little political body in itself that's taking and sucking off the federal government. many times not a legitimate role under the enumerated powers of the constitution that's a role for the federal government. i get letters all the time in my
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office, please fund this, please fund this. my answer back is so me in enumerated powers where it is the role of the federal government to do that. if it is truly our role, i'm for us doing it. but if in fact the enumerated powers, as originally written and as evidenced by "the federalist" papers, say it is not a role for the federal government, then the states ought to be doing tflt and better yet, we as citizens ought to be helping other citizens who have a need. but the a fact is is we've created this monster, out-of out-of-control federal government, and i'm talk out of control because nobody is in control, nobody has the information which is the power to do it, which is why knowing all this stuff, it is so frustrating that we won't eliminate the easy things, that will have no impact on -9d 9% of americans. the only people impacted are the people benefiting directly from administering or gaming the program.
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the department of energy -- when the department of energy was created, it was total our dependence on foreign energy. our dependence at that time was 30%. it reached a peak of 67%, and thankfully, due to horizontal drilling and environmentally sound fracing, we now are at 47%. we've gone down 16 points since the technology was developed to go after resources that are here. you know, what the congressional research service says -- and this is a report published this year -- that america has energy resources greater than the combined energy resources of china, canada, and saudi arabia. we're the only country in the world where the citizens own the
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resources and their own government won't let them have it. we deny our own resources to our own people. and consequently we see $4 gasoline. not because it has to be there, and we blame speculators and we blame the large oil companies. the reason gas is $4 is because the federal government won't let us utilize the very resources that we have. 92% of the 650 million acres that the federal government owns is unavailable for resource production, that can be done in a clean, environmentally friendly way with no impact whatsoever, and yet supply us valuable energy that doesn't make us dependent on countries who are not supportive of our liberties and our freedom. so what you're going to hear a lot of speeches today talking
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about those who've actually lived the american dream, people who've made it. aim not saying there are not excesses. i am not one of the visa few people on my -- i am one of the very few people on my side that thinks we ought to eliminate all the brackets, we ought to flaunt the tax rate, and that we will see the $2 trillion that's sitting on the side line that could be creating jobs in this country actually come in and create jobs. but our problem isn't the people that have been successful. our problem is that we, the members of congress, aren't successful in accomplishing the tasks that we were sent here to do. the department of homeland security -- more unregulated grants, 32 duplicative programs, no follow-up on the grants, no checking to see if a grant was given that they actually
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purchased the purpose, significant amount of fraud, significant amount of improper payments, significant layers of duplication, and not even the department of homeland security knows what's going on, let alone congress. because we won't do oversight. 40 duplicative programs inside the department of interior. then we have all the duplicative programs across agencies. i didn't list all of them. 35 duplicative programs in the dependent of labor, 53 in the department of justice, six in the department of state, 19 at the department of transportation, and who knows how many at the defense department because the defense department doesn't even know. the problem that we need to address is our lack of aggressiveness in reviewing and oversightings the federal government and eliminating the
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duplication. it is frustrating to me as a physician to see us continue to treat the symptoms and never go after the disease. the dis-ease will eventually kill, just like it's bleeding us now, just like it's bleeding us as we borrow $5 billion a day -- $5 billion, that's the entire budget of the state of oklahoma every day that we're borrowing. and now we have political games being played, finger-pointing, putting our finger in the eyes of those across political lines, rather than get down to work in solving the real problems that america faces. we don't have one problem in front of us that we can't solve as a nation. we can balance our budget.
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we can accomplish what we are called upon to accomplish if in fact wevment but the one little thing that creeps in that is nauseating is the vast majority of the members of congress aren't thinking about the problems that are in front of us right now, they're thinking about the next election. how do i advantage? and when you see that happen, what you see and what you should question is, what are the motivation of the members of congress? is it just to get elected? or is it to fix the very real and urgent problems in front of us? i think too often it's about us and not our country. it's about us secure in the next election rather than our children and grandchildren secure in the next generation. and so i would put forward, as you hear the debate over the
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class warfare and the unfairness that is propagated that somebody has become success and that many americans now pay 70% of all the taxes paid, that we want to tax those people more. i think everybody in this country ought to pay taxes. i don't care who you are, what programs you are on. if you get a benefit from the federal government that's rightly under the enumerated porks something the federal government should be doing, ought to pay tax on it. then you're participating. then we wouldn't have 5% of the eligible population voting. we would 75 oregon 85%. because they'd have an involvement. we have an earned-income tax credit program which we pay people who are working, we actually pay them every year. but fully 25% of that is fraud. that's $17 billion a year paid
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out to people who aren't working who are defrauding the i.r.s. we haven't done anything about it. $17 billion? over ten years that's $170 billion. that gas long way towards reducing our deficit -- structural deficit and debt. but we won't do that. same thing on the child tax credit. that's a fraudulent program, fully 20% of it is fraud. yet we've not done anything about it. the presiding officer: excuse me, but the senator has used more than his ten minutes. mr. coburn: i would ask unanimous consent to continue since nobody else is on the floor. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. coburn: i'm sorry. i will finish up in just a short period of time then. the presiding officer: absolutely. mr. coburn: the question then comes over why we would not allow the states to decide whether they think we utah to have -- we ought to have a
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balanced budget. it's true, it will take five to seven years for it to be fully effectuated. but the sooner we start down the road and give the states the option of saying, we think you ought to live under the same rules we live under -- we have all sorts of reasons why we shouldn't have a balanced budget amendment. but not one of them makes sense. not one of them fits with common sense. not one of them does anything except continue down the process and the road on which we are today. so, again, i would say, as you hear the debate today, think about the real disease that we have rather than listening to the symptoms. the des is we'r disease is we're -- we have a tax code that costs a quarter after trillion dollars a year just to comply with, and then still isn't fair.
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and yet we won't address the real decease and the way he -- and the way he draft real disease is identify the real disease and give it the treatment it needs and the treatment it needs is the discipline forced on congress by a balanced budget amendment and i guarantee you, if we were to pass it out of here, the states would pass it and send it back to us and our children and grandchildren would be much better off with it and with that, i'd yield the floor. the presiding officer: mr. presidenthesenator from ken. mr. paul: august 2, the united states will face a debt ceiling. i'm one who thinks we should be debating it every day, every week until we fonds a solution. but in order to find a solution, we have to first admit we have a problem. we have a significant problem. raising the debt ceil something sort of like nolt paying your credit card bill and then saying to the credit card company, i want a i want to just increase y
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limit. we have been doing that decade after decade. both parties have done it. this isn't just one party's problem. it is both partie parties' prob. we are spending $10 billion a day. of that $10 billion, we are borrowing $4 billion a day. we'rspending $100,000 a second d we're borrowing $45,000 a second. senator demint the other day said it was like a drug addiction. you know, to get better from a drug addiction, the first thing you have to admit is i'm addicted. you have to admit you have a problem. that's what's going on here. we have to admit ras a country we have a problem. then we get into this debate, each side seems to have a different position. is the problem that we're spending too much or is the problem that we're taxing too little? you can look at the numbers and
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you can actually come up with an objective answer. the answer is that we're spend too much. and you can look at it in terms of what is spending as a percentage of our gross domestic product. what is spending as a percentage of our economy. well, spending under clinton and under bush for about 16 years was betwee 19 mrwas about 19% ar g.d.p. it is what now? it's about 25% of our g.d.p. so under any objective standard we're spend more than we were previously. now, some would argue, they say the bush tax cuts caused this. if we could just get rid of the bush tax cuts. we're just not taxing people enough. if you look at the numbers, the numbers don't bear out. the numbers are that basically in 1987 revenue was about 18% of g.d.p. in 1995, revenue was about 18%
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of g.d.p. in 2003, bush passed the tax cuts, congress passed these tax cuts. in 2006, revenue was still at about 18% of g.d.p. now right now revenue is under 15%, so revenue has gone down in 2008, 2009, and 2010. what happened in 2008? a severe recession, the worst recession since the great depression. when we have less people working, we have less people paying taxes. it has absolutely nothing to do with the bush tax cuts. they happened in 2003, revenue stayed steady at 18% which it has historically for 60 years until 2007, 2008, the recession hits, revenue goes down. so we have a lack of revenue, but if you raise rates, you won't get more revenue. if you want more revenue, to try
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to balance our books, you need an economy that employs more people. you need a growing economy. it's all about getting out of the recession. but that's why some of us fear raising rates now because we think that will harm us and make it more difficult to come out of a recession. well, many on the other side say well, rich need to pay more. they think the rich are not paying enough. they think if the rich would pay more, we could get out of this. we have to once again look at the facts. there is a resolution on the floor now that the democrats are promoting, and it says that the rich -- the people who make more than $1 million a year, that they earn or bring in 20% of the nation's economy. that's true, but they pay 38% of the income tax. so the question is are the rich paying enough? they bring in 20% of the income and they are paying 38% of the revenue. i don't know. the other question is if you
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just stick it to the rich and say let's make the rich pay more, what will that do to the rest of us? do you think we'll have more jobs or less jobs if we tax people more? the question is also will you get more revenue or less revenue if you do this? historically, no matter what the rates have been, we bring in about 18% of g.d.p. for example, back in the 1950's, we had tax rates as high as 70% on the wealthy. when we did, we brought in 18% of the g.d.p. when reagan came in, he lowered tax rates to 28% for the upper limit. we still brought in 18% of g.d.p. the difference was when we brought in lower rates, we brought in a booming economy, more jobs and we expanded the number of people paying taxes. you expand the tax base. now, we get back to the impasse, there is an impasse up here. the other side says the rich must share more of the burden. there is a way to do it without raising taxes.
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there is ultimately a compromise that i think brings both sides together, gets beyond the debt ceiling, and if they would talk about it, if we would have a debate down here or an informer discussion, we could fix this tomorrow. if you want the rich to share more of the burden, ask them to pay for their medicare. i see no reason why the wealthy shouldn't pay the full cost of medicare. ask the rich to take less in social security benefits. if you means test social security benefits, if you say if you're a wealthy person, guess what? we don't have enough money to give you what we said we were going to give you, and you would have to take less, i'm perfectly willing to accept that. so there are ways that you can do it without damaging the economy. i think raising taxes damages the economy and damages jobs for the working class. we tried this before, about ten years ago we said let's get those rich people. they put a special tax on yachts. guess who it hurt? the guy making $40,000 a year building the dwrats lost -- the
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yachts lost his job. the rich went to the caribbean and bought their yacht somewhere else. it doesn't work, it's not good for the economy, it hurts the working class to raise taxes. but if you want to say the rich need to absorb more of the burden, simply have the rich pay more for their benefits or get less benefits. i'm willing to accept that, many republicans are. it is the compromise. republicans aren't willing to raise taxes, democrats want to raise taxes. where do we compromise? come together and say that the rich can absorb more of the burden by paying more for their benefits or getting less benefits. this is a compromise that would work. we could actually get together and raise the debt ceiling. i have said i will vote to raise the debt ceiling if and only if we decide to do something different in this congress. congress really has done a poor job. you wonder why congress has a 14% approval rating. it's because they have been a poor steward with your money.
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a poor steward. the congress has not done a good job watching over your money. they have been profligate spenders. so i think in order for the american people to believe that we're going to do a better job, we need a new rule, we need a balanced budget amendment. so i will propose along with other enters to raise the debt ceiling contingent upon a balanced budget amendment that we balance our budget by law. now, some have said well, let's just promise to cut spending over the next 10 years. let's raise the debt ceiling ceiling $2 trillion, we'll cut spending $2 trillion. the problem is we're not very believable because we haven't kept our word in the past and we can't bind the next congress. the next congress will be elected by a new set of people. they will come up here and they don't have to go by what we're promising. if we amend the constitution, though, the next congress will be bound by this and the next congress would have to live
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within its means. i think this is very important. it is becoming a consensus in our country that says the debt is a real problem. i think the two sides could come together, republican and democrat, and say this is how we would work it out. but i think it means significant cuts in federal spending. i think it means statutory caps, meaning that government should have to live within its means each year, and then i think we need to amend the constitution. but if the democrats say they have to have that the rich pay more somehow, let's have the rich pay more for their benefits. that's ultimately their compromise. i think you can get the vast majority of republicans to agree to that, democrats could agree to that, we could fix the problem and the american people would be amazed that we got together, we fixed the problem and we moved on. that's what needs to happen. it's not happening in this body. this body needs to debate the debt ceiling. we need to come up with a solution. we need to move on. we have not had one committee hearing about the debt ceiling. we haven't passed a budget in two years. we haven't passed an
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appropriation bill in two years. we aren't doing what we're supposed to be doing up here. the american people say they want results. they want us to at least have a debate up here. we don't have to agree on everything, but let's debate, admit what the problem is and move forward. but instead, we get obfuscation and we get let's talk about something that's not really pertinent to what our problems are. we have to, like the drug addict, admit we have a problem. our problem is spending. it's not a taxation problem. it's not a revenue problem. we have less revenue because we're in a recession. we have a spending problem and the numbers are clear as day, and i would say to this body and to the american people let's balance our budget. raise the debt ceiling, but let's go ahead and have a balanced budget amendment to the constitution, and i hope we will recognize those problems and move forward. i yield back my time and suggest that we are -- call for a
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quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: olleagues, i was
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back in my state for the fourth of july celebrations, and the thing that struck me about those visits that i made and visiting, interacting with people -- i even remember riding my bike
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around my neighborhood on the fourth and there were lots of families, lots of lawn parties and pit fires and gettogethers, family gettogethers, people shooting off fireworks, that sort of thing. it occurred to me as i was driving around that a lot of the people who live in those neighborhoods probably are not thinking about what's going to happen if we don't do something to address this spending and debt problem that we have in this country. and we're very near a debt crisis. we have seen what's happened in other countries around the world. when you start looking at the increase in interest rates that occurs when you get into a debt crisis -- and greece is perhaps a good example of that because now they are facing on two-year debt 24% interest rates. as we well know, treasury interest rates, federal borrowing, treasury notes, bonds, bills, those sorts of things are sort of the -- what drives interest rates and other areas of our economy. and so if you're one of those
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homeowners in south dakota and you're looking at perhaps refinancing your home or buying a new home or buying -- a first-time home buyer, if you're looking at an auto loan, if you're looking at a loan for your child's education, you could very well if we don't get things turned around here be looking at much, much higher interest rates, and that would put an even bigger crimp on the budgets of most families across this country. and it was interesting because last week there was an op-ed in "the wall street journal" in which larry lynsey, a former federal reserve board governor and also served in the bush administration as an economic advisor pointed out that if you had interest rates returned to their 20-year average -- in other words, if you went back to a more normalized type interest rate environment, that it would actually increase the borrowing costs of the federal government over the next ten years by by $4.9 trillion. so you think about how much
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money, how much we're spending every single year now to pay for our borrowing and compound that by increased interest rates, it makes the fiscal situation that we are facing much, much worse, and even more dramatic than it already is. and so the point, mr. president, i'm making is that we have got to get the spending and the debt issue addressed here in congress. why? well, because we are saddling future generations with an enormous burden of debt. we are putting the country on a path to a debt crisis, which would be a -- a huge, huge mistake for this country for so many reasons, and -- but probably most fundamentally is because it has a profound impact on the economy. i think the thing that most americans are concerned about right now are jobs and the economy. that's the number-one issue in front of most americans. it strikes me that if you look at what do you -- what can we do to get people in this country back to work, obviously creating
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conditions for economic growth means keeping taxes low, balancing federal budgets, having an energy policy that promotes american production, improving market access through moving some of these free trade agreements and clamping down on the overreaching regulations that we're seeing coming out of a lot of the agencies here in washington, d.c. there are a whole series of things that can and should be done if we are serious about getting people back to work, but it means, mr. president, that we can't be raising taxes on the job creators, and there is a big debate right now about how do we get ourselves out of this fiscal mess. i would submit to my colleagues that the real issue here is spending. if you go back to the foundation of our country, the year 1800, we were only spending 2% of our entire economic output on the government, the federal government. this year we're going to spend 24% to 25%. the historical average over the past 40 years is about 20.6%. we are dramatically higher in
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terms of what we are spending on our federal government as a percentage of our entire economy. to me, clearly, we don't have a revenue issue here in washington. we have a spending issue. which would suggest that we ought to get after spending, after federal spending, particularly spending that is -- is duplicative, redundant, there are so many things in the federal government that we spend money on that we need to get that waste and that -- and all those types of wasteful spending out of our spending here in washington, d.c., but we also have to focus on those long-term programs, social security, medicare, medicaid, the entitlement programs that drive in fact, compose around 0*e6% of all the money that et goes spend by the federal government. so far there hasn't been any appetite among our democrat colleagues to do that. we have been 798 days without a democrat budget. the only votes we've had on budgets here in the senate are on the ryan plan and on the obama budget. i would ask unanimous consent for two additional minutes.
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the presiding officer: without objection. mr. thune: appeared so the president's budget, the obama budget which was voted on in the senate, prescribed more taxes and spend and more debt of it failed by a vote of 97-0. so the budget that was presented by the budget of th the presided states failed. we don't have a budget here in the budget committee that's been shown to us yet. we're in this week voting on the nonbinding sense of the senate resolution. doesn't even say how we should contribute to deficit reduction. is it going to put higher taxes on people? are there going to be fewer deductions? are people going to be ineligible for farm income payment programs? should they have to contribute more for their dmair? should they receive less social security benefits than those less fortunate? we just don't know because we don't have a budget that's been presented to the senate for consideration. all we simply have in front of us this week is a sense of the senate resolution which is very vague and could be interpreted
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lots of different waisms the white house meet something tomorrow with leaders from both parties. i'm hopeful that that will lead to substantive cuts and agreement about how we're going to reduce spending, how we are going to get this debt and year-over-year deficits under control, but it should not lead to more taxes. and the reason t reason for thay makes our economic situation much, much worse. we're remiewndzed yet again of the need to do this just when this week moody's downgraded portuguese's debt to junk status. this is despite the fact that they are government is pushing through an austerity plan that cuts spending and hikes taxes. we've seen that in lots of european countries that are dealing with debt crises. that is our issue if we don't get this issue under control. it has been 798 days since this senate passed a budget. that's where it starts. determining how we are going to
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spend taxpayer dollars and reining in spending. mr. president, i hope that we can get a budget before the senate. but this sham of a resolution this week, this sense of the senate resolution, is certainly not the way to do that and i hope we can get to a meaningful discussion of what we're going to do about spending and debt and jobs in this country. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the senate the previous order, the senate
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>> this week the house continues work on defense spending. follow the process and watch other deals on spending bills that fund the federal government at c-span's congressional chronicle, a comprehensive resource on congress with video of every house and senate session, vote records too, the daily schedules, committee hearings, and more information about your elected officials at >> mission control, houston. >> roger, discovery.
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>> nasa on schedule for the final mission of the space shuttle program this friday with the launch of stf135 atlantis. look back at columbia 30 years ago and explo what's ahead online at the c-span video library, search, clip, watch, and share any time. >> debate on free trade agreements with south korea, colombia, and panama were canceled last week in the senate finance committee. the republicans boycotted the hearing and the committee had no quorum. they rejected assistance that has job training programs and health care benefits by workers hurt by trade. the meeting is about a half hour.
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> committee rules require quorum which must include at least one member of each party. senator hatch informed me that
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no republicans will attend today, and moments ago republicans objected to the committee meeting today. i'm very disappointed that my colleagues have chosen not to join us to consider this legislation today. this choice is a strict departure from years of bipartisan work in this committee. senate and committee rules require 48-hour notice for official committee business. we provided that notice at 3 p.m., tuesday, giving all members sufficient notice of our meeting today as always we take our rules very seriously. instead of participating in a fair and open forum to discuss these agreements, members of this committee chose to block the scheduled markup. the bigger disappointment is that this boycott means of opportunity to pass important job creation legislation is now
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delayed. today's actions move us further away from finalizing trade agreements and bipartisan trade adjustment package. these bills are so critical to our effort to open new markets, help displaced workers, and improve our economy. not meeting our commitment today means someone who is without a job and struggling to pay the mortgage, car payment, or the child's tuition will have to wait. it means workers who have been laid off will have to wait to get the training they need to get a new job, and the pride that comes with going to work every day. these agreements together with the trade adjustment assistance will boost our economy by billions of dollars. they represent the opportunities that laid off workers hope will come. they are the jobs that unemployed americans need. in fact, these agreements will
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create a remarkable 250,000 u.s. jobs, an increase to u.s. imports by $13 billion. that is just the growth of the job creation we need in these tough economic times. so many americans struggling with these needs and so many americans struggling with our economy need this package, need these jobs. every day we delay, we lose ground to our competitors. tomorrow agreements enter into the force with the european union. in august, colombia's agreement with canada enters into force. a majority of the committee supported to create the 3taa legislation. that means it would have cleared this committee and moved one step closer to ratification. in these tough economic times, now is simply not the time to
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walk away. instead, it is a time for members of both parties to come together to deliver real results for the american people. american workers and our economies simply can want afford to wait -- cannot afford to wait any longer. i'm disappointed in today's boy cot, but my resolve to continue to creating jobs americans need is not diminished. we will certainly continue that work in the weeks and months to come. that's it. >> mr. chairman -- are we -- >> we're waiting. my colleagues may want to make a comment or two. senator kerry? >> well, the first comment i want to make on behalf of everyone here, mr. chairman, is to wish you all the best. we know you are getting married on saturday, that's a happy, happy thing, we're we're happy
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for you. [applause] mr. chairman, i -- i am dumbfounded and really saddened by what's happening here today. i look at my colleague sitting up and down this row right now, thoughtful, committed, intelligent people who came here to do the nation's business at a time when more than ever before people are pleading with us to do the nation's business like adults and come together crossing party lines and find the commonground for our country, and i look over there and see these empty chairs. on the very same day that the july 4th recess has been
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canceled because four or five members on that side refused to allow the senate to recess spodedly because -- supposedly because we have so much business. you know, this -- i mean, what is happening here in this committee today tells the story of the broken politics of our country and the broken united states senate, and it's frustrating. i came here today prepared to vote for a package that puts americans to work, that creates jobs in our country, that is in our national security interest as well as our economic interest, and then would have paveed the way for us to open up the pathway for american products and help american workers to be able to adjust to the impact of trade differences that occur. we all know they occur, and
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ironically, our colleagues who are not here are the same ones who have been attacks the administration for imaginary delay and dad ling about -- doddling about getting these trade packages passed. i guess it was important to them until it stopped being important to them because politics took over, so, you know, there's something real at risk here. this is not a phony moment. every day that goes by, americans are wondering how they are going to go to work, how are we going to compete? how is america going to stay number one? here we have an opportunity to sell now products to be sold across country and abroad, and yet they have taken this extraordinary step of walking awashings i walking away from their responsibilities, walking away from the american people, walking away from the meaning of
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the senate of this extraordinary moment for one of a couple reasons i guess. one reason is possibly they don't like the trade adjustment assistance in the bill because the chairman had the tenacity to strike a compromise with the house of representatives, imagine that, or because they don't want anything to pass here because they want to do everything possible to hurt the president, keep the economy where it is, election strategy 2012. i can't think of any other reason. mr. chairman, i'll tell you, we used to have memberrings of this committee, you know, senator jack hiens who believed and came from states, both of them impacted by trade, and they believed that you needed to help workers be able to transition. president bush in his last state of the union address, maybe one of the few times i've quoted him positively, but trade brings
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better jobs and better choices and better prices, yesterday for some americans trade can mean losing a job, and the federal government has a responsibility to help. that's president bush saying this. i asked them to reform trade adjustment assistance to help displaced workers learn new skills and find new jobs. governor christie of new jersey, governor barber joined in that. we have to recognize world trade can cause economic adjustments that require training. as such, the taa program, first established in 1963 is a critical program to move in tandem with free trade agreements in order to help american workers duped to changes in the global marketplace. these governors have to be scratching their heads, these republican governors who wants
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jobs in their states have to look here and wonder what is happening to the united states congress and to the united states senate. mr. chairman, i don't know how you justify this. it sad pes me much i've been here 27 # years now, and it really makes you stop and wonder how will we get our business done if we can't compromise and come together and do our business? i'm deeply frustrated by it, and i think the american people just got to be, you know, beyond themselves wondering what's going on in washington looking at this spectacle. we give up our 4th of july recess to be here to do business, they have been screaming about getting the agreements done, and we can't do it. enough said. >> okay. >> on last monday, i held for
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the first time as chairman of the commerce committee, a full committee hearing, bipartisan in charleston, west virginia about manufacturing and exporting. the message was basically this, and they knew the message. we lost a third of our manufacturing jobs in the last number of years, but guess what, west virginia? exports from west virginia to other parts of the world have gone up by 50% in a couple of years. the audience was riveted and gay that newsed and -- galvanized and committees were formed and business people and
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governor officials, state and local, to start working on these problems. how can we increase exports from west virginia which is not a rich state, and we talked about the fact that, you know, if you have, let's say in the case of some of these countries, if you don't have a trade agreement with them, they maintain anywhere between 15%-50% tariff if you try to sell in their country. if you have a trade agreement with them, those tariffs disappear. not all of them immediately, but all of them shortly, and so that makes our products more competitive, and those folks in west virginia who attended that hearing were galvanized by that, enthused by that, and they expect us to be doing that.
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i'm not disturbed that we're -- well, i can't say my wife shares that feeling, but we're being held here for a week on a so-called vacation week, but what disturbs me is we could be making progress on export promotion which is what the people of west virginia expect us to be doing because that is a ray of hope for west virginia, and we don't have a lot of them. >> mr. chairman? >> yeah. >> first of all, thank you for extraordinary diligence that you've shown in bringing these agreements before us. that is a real accomplishment, and it's absolutely in the national interest, and you should be commemorated for it. i know you have put an extraordinary effort into it and to forge the compromise that you did with our colleagues on both sides and the house represents a real achievement. i believe the actions of our
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colleagues on this committee are inexplicable and indefensible. when unemployment is too high and economic growth is too low, and we have an opportunity here today to strengthen our economy and our republican colleagues refuse to show up for work. all across america, hundreds of millions of people showed up to work today, and they were expecting that we would do our jobs. they were expecting that we would show up to work to solve our countries problems, and i'll tell you, the only explanation i can see is i remember very well the republican leader, mr. mcconnell, saying early in this session that his number one priority was to defeat president obama. now, i thought our number one priority here was to solve the country's problems, but i think we're beginning to see a pattern
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that some of our colleagues at least on the other side, their number one priority is political victory regardless of the consequences to the country. that is a very, very sad day. >> well said. anybody else? john? >> thank you, mr. chairman, and again, congratulations on saturday, and i guess this is something of a public announcement, but i'm going to make sure there's got pinots there in montana on saturday. >> thank you. >> i had the opportunity to work on the committee, and we've always tried to work in a bipartisan way, and i think that it's important people understand what the bottom line here is today, and that is the longer you delay legislation that expands our exports, the slower our economic recovery will be.
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that is the bottom line because what we have seen and under your leadership, we have explored this in hearings, which expanded trade is about more jobs, and it's about the very jobs we need most -- high skill, high wage jobs, the jobs where we can grow things here in america. we can make things here in america. we can add value to them here in america, and then we can ship them around the world. e just want to make it clear that i think your remarks are very much on point. this is going to be a tremendous bipartisan opportunity for our country. what i believe you look at the enforcement agenda that, again, has been bipartisan, the fact is chinese companies are laundering merchandise through korea and other countries to avoid the
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trade laws, and we could have made progress today to combat this, so on each of these issues, you pointed out trade adjustment assistance, that's historically been bipartisan as well. we know that as we expand trade, there will be changes in our economy. that's why we have the trade adjustment program as a trampoline to make sure that our workers can get health care and job training and assistance so i look forward to the day when we can get back to what has always been bipartisan business here on this committee and, again, our congratulations on saturday. >> thank you very much. we should probably wrap up pretty soon. bill, others who want to speak? >> mr. chairman, congratulations on your wedding. it's too bad you have to cancel your honeymoon, and we will all -- >> we'll make it up. [laughter] >> did you ever think that you were going to have us on your
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honeymoon with you? [laughter] mr. chairman -- >> john, i'll say i certainly didn't. [laughter] >> next week some of us are going to take the floor, and we're going to talk about a comprehensive settlement with real money, about bringing down the deficit over the next decade, and we're going to talk bouts real money. it's not going to be smoke and mirrors. it's not going to be budgetary slight of hand, and it's going to bite. it's going to whack out four trillion out of the deficit in ten years. i can tell you this senator from
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a state whose people want solutions. if this is a sign of things to come, then we're going to have a tough time as it gets closer and closer to august the second because there's not going to be any cooperation if this is the sign to come, and if you do something real about the budget, $4 trillion real over ten years, you have to have bipartisan cooperation. that's what the people sent us here to do. that's what the tradition of this country particularly when the country's back is against the wall in crisis as the people
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come together, and this an awfully bad sign. >> chuck? >> yeah, i'll be very brief, and my congratulations and much happiness and joy in your marriage. just the apparent contradictions on the other side are just enormous. yesterday, seven to ten of our republican colleagues got up and said we must stay here next week, and then today, they don't show up. i mean, totally inconsistent within the span of 24 hours, and it leads you to only one conclusion that my colleagues have eluded to which is they want to country to be in bad shape as possible because that might him them in the election. they are always for tax breaks for employers, employees, but not now. they've always been forgetting,
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many of them, for taa attached to tread agreements, but not now. the list goes on and on and on. all the sudden it's like a new fever has taken over the new side that the best way to win is hurt the country as much as you can, and that will create political benefit, and it's just sad. obviously, all of us inside here are just upset by it, but it's just con founding. i've never experienced anything like it in the 37 years i've been in politics. >> yeah. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman, and congrats to you and mel. >> thank you. >> i just want to add one thing to this discussion, and that is the fact of part of what we're doing here is fulfilling a commitment on trade agreements for workers, small business, farmers who are waiting for us. they have a sense of urgency in
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their life, and sense february with the blocking of republicans of the extension of taa assistance, we have people now finding themselves in a position where they are losing their job, and they don't have the opportunity to get training to be able to get a loan to start new businesses, to be able to do what they need to do, and they have the opportunity to compete in a global economy. just yesterday, workers at ryder were denied help because they were service workers. we included them two years ago. these are folks that lost their jobs when fewer goods were stored in the warehouses they worked in because they were in the global economy. with what you are proposing, mr. chairman, they would be able to get help, and i want to thank you for that. i could go on and on with those every month in michigan, there are those who own a small business, they are workers, they are farmers who have been
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impacted adversely. my trade and in the agreements that we've made is that as you open markets, those who are affected negatively, we will help them be able to retool, to go back to school, to get the help they need, and so i just want to say for the record, there's a whole lot of folks with a whole lot of urgency now counting on us to be able to do something to be able to help them put their life back together and get back to work and care for their families and that's an important part of this discussion as well, and i want to thank you, mr. chairman, for all of your work on the trade adjustment assistance. >> i thank you all very much, and i must say i'm very proud of each of you. we worked very well together, each of us representing a different state, different economy, different point of view, but yet, we're all together. it's like our national model. we are separate but together here. this is moment of truth,
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frankly, for our country. that may sound dramatic, but i think it's true. it's a moment of truth for our country and how competitive this country will be for our kids and grand kids, and we have to look forward past trade agreements that make sense and trade adjustment assistance that makes sense. ..
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>> i just very much hope, we're all optimistic in this business. we wouldn't be here if we weren't optimistic. we can be said this i didn't show up but we're optimistic we can find solutions here, that will keep moving forward, looking for the date hopefully sooner rather than later. because when that site does show up we can do the nation's business. my apologies is to the witnesses of the people who worked so hard, staff have worked so hard, to help us craft a solution here. we will prevail. because we have to. and i thank everybody for your hard work and for a lot of you showing up, this side of the aisle. the next time we'll get the other side to show up. thank you very much. [applause]
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] >> those free trade agreements are set to come before a house committee this week. the u.s. senate is in recess this afternoon so that member's can attend their weekly party lunch meetings. the senate buddy committee chairman kent conrad is expected to give his 20 so budget plan to democratic senators during the party caucus meeting.
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>> next, remarks from senator vitter of louisiana. he calls on congress to pass a
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balanced budget constitutional amendment. senator schumer of new york response think it would take years to pass and congress needs to do something now. he question senator vitter's support for the rind budget. li. from earlier today, this is 25e minutes. >> thank you, madam president. first i rise to celebrate that wepres are finally, finally aftg months and months of doingnder e facing our greatest challenge,in spending and debt, we are finally focused on that on the floor of the united states lon senate. least that's progress. for months, i have been urging us as a body, urging the distinguished majority leader who controls the floor please, let's focus on our gravest challenge, federal spending and debt, right here on the floor of the senate. not wait until the 11th hour. not wait to a crisis atmosphere around the debt limit.
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let's have a constructive debate, put meaningful legislation on the floor about spending and debt. and for months and months and months, unfortunately, we did everything but that on the floor of the u.s. senate. the majority leader looked for every bill, every topic but that and it was all sorts of cats and dogs, many of them, quite frankly, trivial, unnecessary legislation, particularly compared to this grave challenge of spending and debt. finally, last week, a group of us conservatives said enough is enough. we said we shouldn't go out on our planned july fourth recess, july fourth break which was scheduled to be all of this week, and we said we're going to block that. it takes unanimous consent for that to happen. we're going to block it. and sure enough, we did. and then we said wait a minute, we're not blocking that to be here just to be here.
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we're not blocking that to be here and continue to move on to every other issue under the sun but spending and debt. we did that to finally focus on the floor of the united states senate on this gravest of all of our current challenges, federal spending and debt. and so we said we're going to vote against the motion to proceed to the libya debate. now, libya is an important matter, and in fact that debate is long overdue in congress. those votes are long overdue, but that challenge does not rise to the level of our greatest fundamental challenge right now as a nation, spending and debt. and so we said we're going to block that motion to proceed to yet another unrelated matter, and we did. we rounded up the votes for the last half week, and we got those necessary votes to block that
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motion to proceed, and as a result the distinguished majority leader pulled that vote, vitiated that cloture vote yesterday. and so finally, finally we have an instrument on the senate floor, a motion on the senate floor about this central challenge we face, spending and debt. so that is progress. i urge all of my colleagues to come down and join this most important debate, and i continue to urge the majority leader to put meaningful, substantive legislation on the floor about this topic. we have motions on sense of the senate resolutions. it focuses us on the proper topic, spending and debt. that is progress, but of course a sense of the senate resolution does not do anything, does not change anything, so we still have further to go in terms of
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bringing meaningful legislation to the floor on this, our gravest challenge, federal spending and debt. now, why do i insist that this is our top challenge at hand? well, the facts speak for themselves. of every dollar the federal government spends, of every dollar over 40 cents is borrowed money. over 40 cents of every dollar. imagine if you ran your household that way. it wouldn't take long for you to hit a financial dead end and virtual bankruptcy if out of every dollar your family was spending 40 cents was borrowed money. what does that mean? it means we're collecting as a nation, as a federal government, about $2.2 trillion a year. that is a lot of money. $2.2 trillion. the problem is we're spending
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$3.7 trillion. way, way more than we're collecting. the distinguished majority whip mentioned entitlement spending, and i agree with him that is a big part of the issue which we must face in a careful, substantive way. because medicare is one of those big entitlement programs, it too is on an unsustainable path. the average american pays about $110,000 into medicare over his or her lifetime; a lot of money. but on average, that average american receives in benefits over $300,000 under medicare. there again, it's not tough to do the math, that is unsustainable when the average american pays in $110,000 and receives in benefits over
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$300,000. social security, another huge entitlement program. this year it's taking in less than it's spending on current retirees. that day of reckoning was going to be several years down the road. it's been accelerated. it's here, and it's here now; right now. social security is taking in in tax revenue less than it's giving in -- paying out in benefits to retirees. and so what does this mean? this adds up and up and up and up. and so we have more new debt under this administration, more new debt under president obama than the debt compiled under all of the previous presidents combined from george bush to the next george -- the latest george, george w. bush. more new debt under this president than debt accumulated
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from all of those previous presidents combined. we must do something, and we must do something about the real problem: spending and debt. washington, in a bipartisan way, has a spending problem. the fundamental problem isn't that we're undertaxed. we all know that, no matter what station in life we come from. the fundamental problem is that washington doesn't live within its means like we need to as families sitting around our kitchen tables. and so washington has a fundamental spending and debt problem, and we need real solutions, rigorous disciplined solutions to get that under control. how do we go about that? well, to me, it really comes down to three important things: cut, cap, and balance. cut, cap, and balance.
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cut. we need to cut the budget now. we need to cut the budget this year, and next year. we need immediate, meaningful cuts. and that's why i support those immediate meaningful cuts in the federal budget. we can't put off meaningful cuts for one year or five years or ten years. we need them right now. a few weeks ago we had some budget proposals on the floor. we had several republican proposals, and we had president obama's proposed budget. the obama budget didn't cut in a meaningful way. it doubled the debt in five years and tripled the debt in ten. on the republican side, we had three different alternatives, all of which cut the budget in a meaningful way. and i voted for all three. so we need to start now, today
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with cuts. but that's not enough. that's short term. we need immediate cuts. we need medium-term caps. and we need balance. and so caps. what do i mean by cap? i mean, we need established spending caps in each major category of the budget that takes some sort of extraordinary supermajority in the congress to supersede. we need a glide path to actually get through those caps to a balanced budget in a reasonable period of time. there's several proposals in this body. there's several proposals in the house, mostly from the republican conservative side; virtually all of them to establish those caps, to get us on that disciplined mandatory path so we reach that balanced budget. and third and finally, balance. the goal needs to be a balanced
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budget. and it can't be a goal generations off. it can't be a goal decades off. it needs to be a goal within our sight. and the only way ultimately i believe we can absolutely ensure that is through a balanced budget constitutional amendment. and i'm very proud to be a coauthor along with all of my republican colleagues, every single one of us, coauthor of a strong, meaningful, substantive balanced budget constitutional amendment. this has been debated in this body and the house for some time. the last time it was voted on on the floor of the u.s. senate, it came within one vote of passing. we need to have this ultimate protection and straitjacket and enforced discipline to say we're getting to a balanced budget.
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we're going to stay there. we're not going to get in this state again. virtually every state in the country has such a balanced budget constitutional amendment under their state constitution. and that enforced discipline works. that straitjacket at the state level works. it works in my state of louisiana. we have such a provision in our state constitution which says you can't have a state budget that's out of balance. and guess what? that mandate, extra straitjacket -- that straitjacket work and every year the governor working with the legislature produces a balanced budget. if they go out of session and the revenue falls and the budget goes out of balance, guess what? they have to come back in within a set period of time, and they have to rebalance that budget. it's not fun. it's not easy. it's been particularly difficult in this horrible economy for the last several years.
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but because of that mandate, because of that constitutional provision, it gets done. and that's what we need at the federal level. we need a balanced budget constitutional amendment. cut, cap, and balance. it's an important formula; simple but substantive, to get us to where we need to be. the presiding officer: the senator has consumed 12 minutes. mr. vitter: thank you, madam president. so i urge all of my colleagues, democrats and republicans to, come together and continue this debate and move it to the next level. as i said when i began, the first thing i want to do is recognize and celebrate progress. because finally, after months of resistance from the distinguished majority leader, we're finally here on the senate floor actually talking about our most pressing challenge:
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spending and debt. but it is a sense of the senate resolution. it is a procedural motion. so let's get to the real substance by having meaningful legislation: cut, cap, balance legislation put on the floor of the senate, open to the amendments, open to wide-ranging debate. that's the history and tradition of the senate. unfortunately, it hasn't been the practice of the senate all that much in recent years but we're trying to get back to that. so let's put that meaningful substantive legislation about, standing it on the floor of the senate, have that debate, have amendments, have a free flow of ideas. cut, cap, and balance. we can get there. we can do the work of the american people. we can rein in this runaway federal spending and debt. and we must.
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and we must now. because if we fail to meet this challenge this year, if we fail to meet this challenge this year, i believe there are going to be dire, dire consequences for our economy and for all american families as a result. having this topic on the floor of the senate is a start, but it's only a start. let's build on this. put substantive legislation on the floor about spending and debt, and act on that meaningful substantive legislation. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor. mr. schumer: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from new york. mr. schumer: before i begin on my time, i'd like to ask my colleague from louisiana if he'd answer a question? would my -- mr. vitter:ite be happy to. mr. schumer: i thank my colleague. he's right, we should move on this this year. we certainly agree with that. of course the balanced budget
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amendment wouldn't take effect for years to come. but my colleague just voted for the ryan amendment which actually increased the deficit. not only did it not move deficit numbers down, but it increased the deficit. how can he reconcile all this nice, grandiose talk about a balanced budget amendment while voting for an amendment that actually increased the deficit? mr. vitter: first of all, i voted for that budget as well as the toomey budget. the toomey budget, which was my first choice preference, balances the budget in ten years. that would be my first choice. of the ryan budget gets us way down the path compared to anything else proposed on the democratic side, which on the senate floor actually got zero votes out of 100. while the ryan budget is not my first choice, it's a dramatic improvement on the path we're currently on.
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shy shy the high -- mr. schumer: the ryan budget is not a step in that direction. the ryan budget, as i understand it, does not do a thing in the first decade to reduce the deficit. it cuts a lot of spending, but it also cuts taxes tanned raises defense spending. mr. vitter: if i may respond through the chair, that is not true. it reduces the deficit. it doesn't balance the budget within the t-pb-year window, which is my strong preference. the toomey budget does do that, but it gets us going in the right direction. it reduces the deficit, and it's a particularly dramatic improvement over anything sponsored by this administration. mr. schumer: i thank my colleague. i would say it's time to walk the walk, not talk the talk. whenever folks refuse to step up to the plate to towelly balance the -- to actually balance the budget -- the last president to do so would be bill clinton -- they start talking about a way
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distant in the future amendment. this balanced budget they're talking about is not going to solve our problem in the next five years. we have to get to work right now, and that's what we're trying to do on this side with a fair and balanced approach. the balanced budget amendment that my colleague speaks about, would if you look at its amendments, 18% g.d.p. it cuts deeper than the ryan budget, would end medicare as we know it, would mean that things that we take for granted like food safety inspectors and flight inspectors, would have to be cut. and then it makes it impossible to close tax loopholes for millionaires and billionaires. it is not a balanced budget amendment. it is an unbalanced budget amendment. because it simply reflects an ideological view that my good colleague and friend from louisiana has, but does not reflect the views of either a majority of this chamber or certainly the american people. so let's walk the walk. let's not just talk the talk.
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i think that's very important to note. cutting spending which is done in the ryan budget is not going to work in terms of balancing the budget. you just can't unless you just decimate things like medicare without revenues. that's what i'm here to talk about today. i rise today in support of the sense of the senate on shared abg tpaoeus. the -- shared sacrifice. the clock is ticking. time is running short to reach a deal on reducing the deficit and raising the debt ceiling. we are walking the walk, not simply talking the talk about some ephemeral balanced budget amendment that is unbalanced and will not pass. yesterday the president said that we needed to reach a deal within two weeks in order to avoid roiling the financial markets. democrats are working in good faith, identifying spending cuts and tax loopholes to close.
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what are our republican colleagues doing? well, since stalking out of the negotiations two weeks ago, they are now sticking to their blind ideology and playing political games like inviting the president to come to the capitol when they know he can't, to deliver a message he's already heard. and the republican leader has continued to insist that we can't raise a single dollar in revenue, no matter how wasteful the tax break, or how generous the subsidy. madam president, here's what it's coming down to. in the homestretch of negotiations, our republican colleagues seem to be willing to tank the economy rather than end a single tax subsidy. democrats are submitted to reducing the deficit and getting our nation back on a sensible fiscal track, but we know that everyone must pay their fair share. we know there has to be
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compromise to get things done. you can't just draw a line in the sand and say my way or no way. it will lead to fiscal armageddon. so over the past several weeks, we have offered a number of wasteful tax breaks that should be ended as part of the debt ceiling deal. ending subsidies for the oil and gas industry making record profits, the ethanol industry which 36 members on the floor, including the majority leader supported to their credit, and corporate jet owners will save us tens of billions of dollars. now, paradoxically, our republican colleagues are now arguing that tax breaks for oil companies and corporate jet owners are too small to consider ending. they have argued that because they will only save taxpayers tens of billions of dollars. they say that's not enough, and so we shouldn't be discussing them now. well, mr. president, i disagree. tens of billions of dollars that we can save on wasteful
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subsidies are certainly worth pursuing. but let's turn our attention to the matter at hand. one of the biggest of all taxpayer giveaways the democrats are trying to end. tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires. i rise today in strong support of the senate resolution that says simply instead of ending medicare as we know it, instead of cutting college scholarships and cancer research, instead of balancing the budget solely on the backs of the middle class, let's end some breaks, let's end tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires. let me repeat that because that's the essence of our dispute here, of our disagreement. you can't varnish it any other way. i know the other side tries to say they are raising taxes, trying to imply that we want to do it on middle-class people. we don't. we're not going to touch a person whose income is below below $250,000. some of us would even go
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higher, $500,000, $1 million. but every one of us on this side says if you're a millionaire, you should share some of the sacrifice, and the other side resists and then they try to hide by saying it's raising taxes. it's not raising taxes on average folks. it's not raising taxes at all. it's simply going back to the level under bill clinton where we had record prosperity, record jobs and record income growth for the highest end people as well as for middle-class people got income growth as well. so let me repeat the nub of this and why we have this resolution on the floor. here's what it says. instead of ending medicare as we know it, instead of cutting college scholarships and cancer research, instead of balancing the budget on the backs of the middle class, let's end tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires. this would save over over $100 billion a year, and hundreds and hundreds of billion in the long run. it's not just a small amount. i ask my republican colleagues is that saving significant
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enough to at least merit discussion and not just take it off the table? the g.o.p. budget would end medicare as we know it to give hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks to the wealthiest americans. the resolution says simply don't let that happen. and let me say this. i respect people who have made a lot of money. there are many of them in my state. they work hard. god bless them. but many of them when you talk to them, they are the first to say they should share in the sacrifice. there are some who say no, but i don't think they represent mainstream america or mainstream american opinion. now, in normal times, this would be a consensus opinion. the fact that we shouldn't end medicare as we know it to give hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks to the richest americans. in normal times, that would be a consensus position. republican presidents and political leaders have long supported raising revenue combined with cutting spending
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to reduce deficits. ronald reagan, for instance. because he was -- he wanted to shrink government but he was fiscally responsible. but the republican party has been dragged so far to the right by an ideological fringe that they now see this balanced approach as an extreme position. what it comes down to is this -- would republicans rather end medicare than end tax breaks for billionaires? it's a simple choice. and this resolution will make the answer to that question clear. again, will republicans do anything, even risk a default that protects tax breaks on the highest income people, millionaires and billionaires? and would they rather end medicare and solely rely on cuts that hurt the middle class than admit that some tax subsidies such as those for big oil companies and corporate jet owners are a waste of taxpayer
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dollars? well, madam president, we will well, madam president, we will >> the u.s.a. comes back at 2:15 eastern on a measure that calls for any agreement to require those are in over a million dollars per year to make a quote more meaningful contribution. to deficit reduction. live coverage of the u.s. senate when they come back at 2:15. "congressional quarterly" is reporting the budget committee chairman kent conrad is putting off release of the fiscal 2012 budget resolution for at least another day. he said today after meeting for more than an hour with budget committee democrats pick president obama calling for a meeting at the white house tomorrow about the debt ceiling. he will be meeting with members from both parties. the white house says current borrowing authority ends august 2. today on the senate floor members reacted to the presidents invitation to we'll hear from senator isakson and
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also senator durbin. this is about half an hour. mr. isakson: i rise this morning to talk about the meeting tomorrow the president has called at the white house, a summit as which it has been referred to. i hope it will be a summit where both sides leave their weapons at the door, sit across the table from one another and begin talking about a comprehensive solution to a comprehensive problem. the solution to that problem, though, does not lie in creating villains and enemies. in the last two weeks, we have heard a lot of rhetoric coming from the white house demonizing people who have corporate jets or demonizing people who make over $1 million. i was reminded in this debate about millionaires of the debate in 1969 in america. it was one of my first debates that i ever watched. i had returned home from the service. i had begun my business. and a report came out in the newspaper that 155 americans who made over $1 million paid zero taxes. i personally was astounded. everybody else was astounded. and congress went to work to
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close the loophole and they did it by creating something known as the alternative minimum tax, something to make sure that someone who paid no tax at least paid their fair share, and i put that in quotes. today now 155 millionaires are paying the alternative minimum tax. 3,420,000,000 americans are. oftentimes when congress goes to target one person, they catch everybody in a bigger loop. i don't think we need to demonize those who employ americans, those who create the jobs, those who make our economy run any more than we should villainize those who want to save social security or medicare. the president in his last two speeches last week targeted millionaires, he created enemies and none of that will help us to solve the problem. the president is not the only one playing that game. a little bit of criticism can go to both sides. as we look at the chart that has been on the floor for the last two weeks about what's happened in the last 30 months since the president was elected with critical things. unemployment is up by
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1.9 million people, 17% in terms of the rate. gas prices are almost double. federal debt is up 35%. but remember, it was $10 trillion when the president was elected, so it's not just the president's fault, but he is making it worse. debt per person is now up by by $11,258 and health insurance premiums by almost 20%. in fact, the only thing that's down in the last 30 months are the expectations of the american people. expectations of what our future is going to be like. so for a moment, i'd like to offer some historical suggestions as to what both sides can do tomorrow at the white house when they leave the weapons at the door, sit at the table and really begin to negotiate. one is to look back in history when we have had big problems and we came up with big solutions. the 1980's, a particular time. i was in the state legislature then, followed what was happening in washington. in fact, when i was 39 years old in 1983, ronald reagan and tip o'neill had a meeting at the white house. allegedly -- i wasn't there, but allegedly it went something like
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this. the president said well, social security is going broke in about 20 years. we just got that report. we need to fix it. o'neill said i agree. the president said i'm willing to work on it but i'm not willing to raise the tax. o'neill said i want to work on it but i don't want to cut the benefit. they looked at the actuary and said what do we do? the actuary said you push the eligibility out and get the system back into soundness. i was 39 in 1983. i would have been collecting social security at the age of 65 in 2010. but because reagan and o'neill got together, they pushed my eligibility out by one year to age 66, not age 65. and now incrementally it goes up two months a year to age 67 in a few years. that put the system in actuarial soundness for 67 years. the reason it is now all of a sudden in trouble again is the protracted economy and these difficulties have caused people, baby boomers, to go to the bank now of social security and collect early social security at age 62. so we have had a rush to social security because of the
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unemployment and the uncertainty in our economy. but reagan and o'neill fixed social security by pushing the eligibility out. they didn't raise the tax but they did raise the ceiling upon which it was levied. i think it was interesting politically, a note the president should understand and all of us should recognize, the next year was 1984, and president reagan won 49 of 50 states a year after he fixed social security. so i don't think we ought to demonize people for trying to save the bigger problems of our debt and deficit. everybody in this room knows that you couldn't cut -- you could cut every discretionary dollar out and you would still owe $300 billion in the deficit. we're only going to fix social security and medicare, the only ways we're going to fix the debt and the deficit. and on medicare, i was disappointed that when paul ryan and the house came up with a forthright plan, he was immediately demonized. in fact, he was invited to the white house and criticized face to face at a conference the president had. that was just for trying. it's about time all of us
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started trying. we started trying to find common ground. we started to look at our solutions in a comprehensive way. it's not time we stop calling names and instead we start calling numbers. we started looking at what it is we can do within our control to put our spending back in line, amortize our debt over time to a reasonable amount and reduce our deficit over time. it's not going to be fix the with one stroke of a pen or one single piece of legislation, but it is going to begin to be fixed when both sides sit down at the table and understand this is the fourth quarter of the major super bowl of the future of the united states of america, and continuing to shoot at each other and throw bricks and bats and create victims and create enemies and not talk about the real problems is just making it worse for all of us. it's time we made it better for the american people. i spent the weekend with the american people that live in the state of georgia celebrating our independence and the fourth of july and spending some time with five of my nine grandchildren, and i remember saturday night
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watching my grandchildren play in the den, looking down at them, they weren't looking at me. i was just watching them play and i thought about their future. i thought about what their future was going to be like in a country that ran unlimited debt and deficits, that inflated its dollar, lowered its expectations and was not the america that i had been fortunate enough to live, work and be born in. and recognizing my age and my time, i know that my future, the years that i have left are all about those children and those grandchildren. i want to be a part of the solution for the problem today but a part of their expectations for the future. i don't want them to look back and say granddad made it worse. i want them to look back and say granddad made it better. tomorrow is an opportunity for the president of the united states to lead. he has templates that he can lead with. can either choose to take isolated enemies and isolated arrows and shoot them at people or instead look back at his deficit commission, his deficit commission which i voted for, by the way. i was one of the republicans that ved for the creation of the deficit commission. they came back with a comprehensive recommendation in
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december that should have come to the floor for debate. it dealt with social security, it didn't deal with medicare. it dealt with the tax code. it dealt with spending. it dealt with expenditures. it lowered tax rates and raised opportunity. the president didn't even let it come to the floor of the congress of the united states. he looked the other way. it's time we look straight in each other's eye and say there are solutions out there, that good people of goodwill can find a way to do just like ronald reagan and tip o'neill did. but i don't want to be a part of just making it worse. i want to be a part of just making it better. i hope those at the conference tomorrow sit down with that type of attitude. we don't create enemies and villains. we don't make it worse. but we begin a platform and a template where in the next three to four weeks we can begin to amortize our debt over time, reduce our debt over time, raise the expectations of the american people and cause a brighter future for our children and for our grandchildren, and i yield the placed in a separate part in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: madam president, i meant what i said about senator
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isakson of georgia. he's a republican and i'm a democrat, and he's my friend, and i like him. and we don't agree on everything. our voting records are much different. but what he had to say this morning was the right thing. and what he had to say this morning i think should open the eyes of america about where we need to go. yesterday the president sat down and said we need to be serious about deficit reduction. we don't need a mini deal. we need something that speaks authoritatively to the world that the united states understands its deficit challenge and is prepared to make the hard choices to address it. i think the president is right. i was interviewed this morning by a quincy illinois radio station. they said why wouldn't you take a mini deal and just get it over with? well, if you think you'll take a mini deal, you'll probably be offered a minimini deal and at the end of the day little or nothing will happen. here's the problem we face and it's a real problem.
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for every dollar we spend in washington, we borrow 40 cents. we borrow from countries all around the world. the number-one creditor to the united states is china. china loans us money so we can spend for government purposes. how do we spend the money? if you look at federal employees, more than half of the federal employees in the united states of america work for one department: the department of defense. if you look at expenditures, some of the fastest-growing sections of our budget have been on the military side, as we wage wars in iraq and afghanistan and participate in the nato exercise in libya. that's pretty expensive undertaking. we know that that has gone up 84%, military spending, in the last ten years, gone up 84%. we know at the same period of time that spending on mandatory programs -- that would be like social security, medicare, medicaid, agriculture payments,
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veterans payments. spending for those payments over the last ten years has gone up 32%. and we know that the rest of the budget, the so-called domestic discretionary spending which would include things like building highways, keeping federal prisons open, providing pell grants to college students, giving children from poor families early childhood education, putting money at the national institutes of health for madam chair research. that's one section of the budget. it comprises 12% of our budget. in the last ten years that part of our budget has gone up zero percent. no increase in spending in that section. most of our spending goes into the military, 84% increase over ten years, and mandatory programs, 32% over ten years. the biggest driver in terms of federal spending, the thing that we can't seem to get ahold of: health care costs. and you know that as an
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individual, whether you're trying to buy health insurance for your family, run a small business and trying to cover the owners and workers, or look at it from a state and local viewpoint when it comes to public employees. i could analyze the health care system, but i do know about it. but i will tell you that it is a model that is unsustainable. you cannot watch the cost of health care go up beyond inflation every single year and expect to control deficits whr-rbgs it's your family -- deficits whr-rbgs it's your family deficit, city deficit or national deficit. that's the reality of where we are today as we face the current situation. i listen as the senator from georgia, whom i respect very much, talk about what president obama inherited, and i would like to add a little perspective to it. the last time the federal budget balanced the budget, ran a surplus, was in the final two years of the clinton
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administration. william jefferson clinton, democrat president of the united states. we generated a surplus in those years. that is, we collected more money in taxes and revenue than we paid out. and that hadn't happened for decades. at that point, as william jefferson clinton left office as president, the national debt of america, the accumulated net national debt of america from george washington through william jefferson clinton was $5 trillion. $5 trillion. and we had a surplus in our annual budget. and when president george w. bush took over and president clinton handed him the keys to the white house, he said next year if you follow my budget, you'll have $120 billion surplus. that's what president george w. bush inherited. $5 trillion national debt.
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a government running a surplus of $120 billion in the next year. now fast forward eight years later. at the end of president george w. bush's eight years in office, let's take a snapshot what did it look like then. the national debt was no longer $5 trillion eight years later. it was almost $11 trillion. it more than doubled in an eight-year period of time. and when president obama took office, instead of being handed a budget for the next year with $120 billion surplus, as president bush was handed by president clinton, president obama was given a budget, and he said next year if you follow our budget, you will have a $1.2 trillion deficit. ten times the amount that president bush had in surplus, president obama was told you'll have that in deficit, below that much.
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the books don't pwafplt what happened in -- the books don't balance. what happened in eight years? several things happened. first, we waged two wars in iraq and afghanistan, and we didn't pay for them. i think back in my history, and i can remember as a kid that every birthday i would receive a savings bond, u.s. savings bond. and i used to think it was interesting, they would hand me these $25 savings bonds and i knew they cost $18.25 but if i didn't do anything and held on to them, they would be worth $25. grandma and grandpa would give me the $25 savings bond and i knew it cost $18.25. those savings bonds is how we fund wars. americans sack tpaoeuzed -- sacrificed and they bought
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savings bonds. it was my family tradition. it was the tradition in america. when it came to the two most recent wars -- iraq and afghanistan -- it didn't happen. we borrowed the money from other countries. during that eight-year period of time under president bush, we wage twaod wars and borrowed the money and added it to the national debt. and we did something else. no president in the history of the united states of america ever has cut taxes in the midst of a war. and you know why? because you have your ordinary budget of government; you've got to pay for it. now you've got a new expenditure with hundreds of thousands of troops in the field and families saying keep them safe and bring them home, and you're spending billions of dollars there. how could you cut taxes? that's what happened. during the bush administration, they cut taxes. two wars unpaid for, cut taxes. and then the president -- bush -- signed into law programs, dramatically expensive programs that weren't paid for.
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medicare part-d was one of them. you had these signed into law. at the end of that period of time the national debt rose from $5 trillion to almost $11 trillion. now, the republican party has a philosophy. the democratic party has a philosophy. there are those of us who think that sometimes we should listen to one another and try to learn from one another -- and i think this is one of those occasions. but i will say to my friends on the republican side of the aisle in the senate and the republican leaders in the house, those who were arguing that the best way to get the american economy moving forward at this point is to give tax cuts to the wealthiest people in america have forgotten their history. that's exactly what we did under president george w. bush, and look what happened. the biggest deficits in the history of the united states. and when barack obama raised his hand off of that lincoln bible, taking the oath of office, that month we lost 700,000 jobs in
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america. unemployment was running rampant and just kept going. using the republican economic theory of tax cuts for the wealthiest people in america. it didn't work then. this won't work now. it's a tired, old idea. it may give them points in opinion polls. it doesn't give america points and credibility around the world. and it's a position they're taking. having said that, i guess i could stop here and you could say, durbin, that was a heck of a democratic speech. let me go further. i was on that commission. i sat there for ten months and listened to everything. it was split, democrats and republicans. the president appointed the commission. there were democratic senators and republican senators and the same thing with house members. and we listened to the whole thing, and i came to the conclusion that there were some positions the republicans had taken that were wrong and there were positions that democrats had taken that were also wrong, and it was time for us to try to do something smart and to do it
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bipartisan. and i voted for the deficit commission. 11 out of the 18 of us did. and i think i surprised more people than i ever imagined, but i think it was the right thing to do. madam president, the morning i voted for it, my son, who happens to live in your state now in brooklyn, sent me an e-mail and said thanks, dad, you're doing the right thing. every dad wants to hear that one time in their lives, and i said that at this commission meeting, and it meant a lot to me, that my son, whom i greatly love, would have that kind of respect for that decision. here's what we did and here is what we need to do now and here is what we need to say to the american people. we can get out of this mess. america is a good, strong nation. we're smart, hard-working. we have a great tradition in this country when it comes to dealing with challenges, whether they are waging wars or fighting recessions, putting a man on the moon, we can do it. we've done it, we'll do it again. start with that premise.
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don't badmouth this country because we're lucky, we're blessed to be living here. this country in its history has proven over and over again it can tackle the biggest challenges and meet them head on. and you know who wins this battle when it comes to the biggest challenges? average americans. who waged our wars? who were the soldiers who went off to war? they were my brothers in the korean war. they were others, just regular old families that said it's our patriotic duty, we're going off to serve, and they continue to do it time and again. so when it comes to sacrifice, americans know that spirit as well. not only the can-do spirit but the spirit of sure, my brothers each gave four years of their lives to the united states navy and so many other families did it. and it says that americans are willing to step up and participate in a national effort. when they think we're all together as a nation moving in the right direction, they want to be part of it, i want to be part of it, america wants to be part of it. so when we come down here and talk about solutions to problems, let's talk about
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everybody rolling up their sleeves and getting involved. now, i know the poorest of the poor can't. they don't have the resources. they may not have the physical and mental ability. whatever their circumstance, i'm ready to stand and say we're going to help our most vulnerable people. asking them to pitch in and sacrifice is maybe too much in some circumstances, but the rest of us, sure, let's pitch in. and here is what we ought to do. first, we shouldn't say that anyone in america who is wealthy and comfortable in life is going to be spared from sacrifice. everybody has to give. and those who are better off than some should give more. i don't think that's unfair. life has been good to them. america has been good to them. and when we need them, they should be asked to help. so the notion of raising taxes on the wealthiest people in america shouldn't be something that we just automatically reject. it should be part of the conversation. secondly, we have a tax code
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that you couldn't carry with two arms, it's so big, loaded with laws and regulations and, frankly, most people don't know what's in there. i'll tell you the people who do know, the special interests lobbyists in washington know what's in there, the lawyers at the tax firm, they know what's in there, and some people in the committees here. and if you go into that tax code, you will find you spend almost $1.2 trillion in tax expenditures. most people don't understand that, and i learned a little bit about it in the deficit commission. here is what it comes down to. $1.2 trillion in tax expenditures in the tax code equals all the credits, all the deductions, all the exclusions, everything that you could take to reduce your tax burden, okay? $1.2 trillion also represents the entire amount of discretionary spending each year in the united states. it's a big sum of money. so we spend it in our expenditure levels, defense department, all the way through
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the agriculture department, everything in between, and we forgive or don't collect the same amount in the tax code. so who benefits from that? well, let's look at the basics. 70% of american taxpayers do not itemize on their tax returns. they file the standard return. they don't itemize. so the tax code doesn't mean anything to them. if there is a special deduction, unless it was a refundable tax credit -- rare category -- it doesn't help them. 70% of americans don't touch it. what are the biggest deductions under the u.s. tax code today? i in all my wisdom and education and experience on capitol hill, i raised my hand to the teacher and said well, it's the mortgage interest deduction, right? wrong. the biggest single deduction is the employers exclusion for health care premiums. so employers are able to exclude from income the amount of money they spend for health insurance for their employees. that's the biggest.
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number two, the mortgage interest deduction. i use it. my wife and i bought our home and thought about it ahead of time. okay, we could get a mortgage interest deduction, maybe we could buy more home. a lot of families do. when you take a look at the mortgage interest deduction and realize that 70% of americans don't itemize, then look at the 30% who do, it turns out the mortgage interest deduction, the lion's share of the money for the mortgage interest deduction goes to the very highest income categories in america. so that comes as a surprise. you think it's a middle-class tax cut. it's by and large for wealthy people. i want to preserve that part that protects middle-class families, but again shouldn't those in the highest income categories be willing to see some change in that deduction if it means that america's deficit is finally going to be brought under control? so when you take a look at the tax code, i think we need to be
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honest about it. there are things in there we can't afford to do any longer, things maybe we never should have done. and we can clean up that tax code. what we found with the deficit commission by cleaning it up we can actually produce enough revenue out of that effort to lower marginal tax rates. now, i hope my republican friends will tune in at this point because this is something they applaud, and i do, too. if we can lower marginal tax rates for families, even businesses in america, it's a good thing, and i'm for it, but it means being honest and tackling the tax code. the other thing we have got to look at are entitlements. this is where it gets dicey on my side of the aisle. people don't want to talk about it. i like paul ryan, congressman paul ryan is a smart guy. he is from the midwest. maybe i'm partial to him as a result. he is from janesville, wisconsin. he has studied this issue and knows it well. we come to different conclusions, but detackle the entitlements. i think he went too far on medicare. doubling the out-of-pocket expenses for people under medicare is a nonstarter.
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eliminating medicare as we know it and putting these folks in the loving arms of health insurance companies in their 60's and 70's is not any kind of favor for the elderly in america. so i disagree with his conclusions. i wouldn't vote for him, voted against him, but i don't disagree with paul ryan saying we have got to look honestly at medicare, because if we don't touch medicare, in about 10 or 12 years, it goes broke. we can't let that happen. so we have to look at medicare in a sensible way to reduce the cost of medicare. in the medicare prx part-d program, prescription drugs for seniors, i think medicare ought to offer an option. the government ought to have an option people can choose voluntarily one way or the other to try to buy pharmaceutical drugs in bulk, reduce their costs so that seniors pay less. is that a radical concept?
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exactly what we do in the veterans administration. we can do it for seniors under medicare prescription part-d, reducing the cost of that program and the cost to seniors and creating as part of the spectrum of competition a medicare prescription program, one that people can opt in if they want to. so there are ways to save money in medicare without endangering basic benefits. here's the last thing i will say. i see my colleague from louisiana is here. i don't want to keep him waiting. i will say this. tomorrow, i will be honored to be invited to the white house with senator reed to meet the president and the leadership in the house and gnat, democrats and republicans. the president has said leave your ultimatums at the door. pretty good advice. and i think the president understands if we do not extend the debt ceiling of the united states on august 2, it will have a dramatic negative impact on the american economy. it's as if you would default on your mortgage. same -- same result. our creditors around the world will say oh, america's not going to pay its bills on time.
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maybe we won't loan them money. maybe if we loan them money, we'll raise the interest rate. and if they raise the interest rate on our government, they will raise the interest rates across our economy, whether you're borrowing for a home or a car or whatever it happens to be. so it would be the height of irresponsibility for us to default on america's debt. the debt ceiling needs to be extended so that interest rates don't go up, because if they do, it will hurt our economic recovery and put more americans out of work. the template for our meeting tomorrow should be the president's deficit commission. i will only take exception to one thing senator isakson said earlier. he said that the president did not let it come to the floor for a vote, his deficit commission. in fairness to senator isakson, that wasn't the president's responsibility. that's our responsibility to bring it to the floor for a vote. i have been trying for months, six months now with a handful of other colleagues, democrats and republicans, to bring this to
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the floor so that we could have a vote on it. we haven't quite reached that point. i'll keep on trying, but we should. and i think it still remains the best way to approach the deficit challenge, put everything, under line everything, on the table. look to that deficit commission. the sism-bowles commission gave us guidance as to how we can get out of this. and if we do, if we get it done, and we can, we can do this. i think it's going to inspire people around the world to believe again in america's future as an economy, to invest in america, to create jobs. it's going to be like the turnaround that occurred when bill clinton came to the office and said i'm taking the deficit seriously. he passed his deficit reduction plan by one vote in the house -- i was there. by one vote in the senate when vice president al gore cast the deciding vote, and look what happened to our economy. dramatic increase in job creation, dramatic increase in business ownership, dramatic increase in business creation, homeownership.
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that to me can happen again if we come up with a bipartisan, sensible, inclusive budget deficit plan of the magnitude the president called for yesterday. yesterday. >> senate majority whip dick durbin on the senate floor earlier today. senate republicans have a meeting to talk about their response to keep issues. the topic is the federal debt limit. we are at the ohio clock and the capital where we're waiting for a response from the senate republicans. president obama has invited congressional leaders to the white house tomorrow to continue negotiations. house republican leaders are saying there are not enough votes to pass. democrats start a debate today on whether to bring up a bill saying those earning more than $1 million a year should contribute more to federal debt reduction. the debate will resume when the senate gavels back in at 2:15 eastern.
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we will have that life for you of course you on c-span2. we expect the republican response to the debt and deficit talks after this afternoons weekly party meets. those meetings should be wrapping up in the moment. we expect to hear from mitch mcconnell, republican with johncock, lamar alexander and johnson who is the policy committee chair and john barrasso is the republican conference vice chair. >> [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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said republican leaders, this story from "cq" today from just a short time ago. senate budget committee chair kent conrad putting off release of the fiscal 2012 budget resolution. for at least another day. he said after meeting for more than a with budget committee democrats. the plan will trim trillions of dollars and could become a vehicle for raising the $14.3 trillion debt limit. i don't think today because we have got to make a presentation to the caucus and listen to them, he said. i hope to do it this week. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> we are waiting as the u.s.
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capitol for the arrival of senate republicans to talk about the deficit and debt talks that are happening after this weekends, after this week's party meetings. that's the story from "cq." democrats could support a short-term approach if they brought deficit cutting deal cannot be completed before august 2. house minority whip steny were suggested today congressman hoyer said he agrees with president obama's preference for a single grand compromise and a debt limit increase. but he said democrats would back an incremental approach to avert a governmental default. once again and objective. if it takes a two-step our three-step, prepared to take three steps or do it in a one step that congressman hoyer. the key is something that is responsible, effective, default preventing and keeping faith with the most vulnerable in america. while leaders of both parties
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call for a grand compromise. mitch mcconnell has suggested a short-term and a smaller deficit reduction package. also, this from "the associated press" today. president obama will take on the twitter during a town hall in the white house today hosted by the popular social media service twitter. the 2:00 event is expected to focus on jobs and the economy. twitter curious will help select questions for the president. the white house said. you can take part in this event. it is available on our website, [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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>> again, we are waiting the arrival of senate republican leaders to talk about the response of the debt and deficit talks. we expect them out in just a moment. while we wait we will go to this morning's "washington journal" for conversation with the reporters covering the debt and deficit talks on capitol hill. but we will start talking about those debt talks that are happening this week. susan ferrechio is from the washington examiner -- and here are hurt at -- headlines. joining us on the phone this morning, susan, why is there anxiety? guest: hi, greta.
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there is anxiety because neither side is really ready to deal on this. everybody is drawing a line and not willing to cross it. republicans don't want any tax increases and democrats are saying there is no way we can come up with a deal unless there is some way to raise revenue and you can't really raise revenue unless you find money to take from taxpayers. they really are not coming together on that at all and republicans have not given away one bid on this. and unless there is some kind of compromise, there is not really a way for a deal on the debt ceiling to get through the house of representatives where there is a really big republican advantage. the senate, probably, but the house where there is a big sticking point. they have to come up with something that would clear the house in order to get through congress and become law. that is where they are stuck right now. they will meet thursday at the white house -- republican and democratic leaders together -- and going to try again to talk, but already it sounds like this
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will be a difficult conversation. yesterday, the speaker of the house john boehner, republican, put out this sort of warning that we could come to the white house and talk -- that is fine -- but it doesn't sound like things will go very far, he said, unless the president understands that republicans are not willing to raise taxes. as i said earlier, the president over the said we need a compromise, we need something that involves both cuts, which is what the republicans want, and ways to raise revenue. >> have democrats compromised on the hold medicare cuts issue? guest: right now there -- what to do with medicare and medicaid. i know the republicans said they want to raise the age of eligibility, which, of course, would save hundreds of billions of dollars. democrats said that is a nonstarter but they have talked about ways to save money in medicare. that involves a lessening the amount of federal subsidies,
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hospitals for dr. training and subsidies for payments for medicare patients, including people who have not been able to pay their bills. all kinds of ways they are trying to curb federal spending on medicare and medicaid, including lowering the amount of money the government would give states to help folks on medicaid. it seems on the talking stages and would not say nearly as much money on those -- entitlement programs that the republicans talking about -- raising the age of eligibility and changing it to a program that is more like giving folks reimbursements rather than a government run medicare program. they are having different conversations about ways to save money on entitlements. but they are just in the early stages. >> have republicans are ready, and said that is not good enough? guest: no, they have not. to be said we need to talk about entitlements. that is an area where they might
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find compromise because republicans realize politically it is not realistic to talk about raising the age of eligibility at this point. it is not politically feasible. people really aren't ready for that. i think actually they might go for that kind of deal. i think democrats might be the ones who are more likely to be opposed to that, because it could reduce benefits for people -- although far less than what the republicans at talking about. host: will be talking about those two sides -- medicare cuts, so security, versus tax increases. -- medicare, cut, social security, versus tax increases. we will speak to a representative from the committee -- committee to preserve social security and medicare, and after that we would talk to someone from the tax union group about tax increases, and then later, what of the government defaults on august 2.
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-- what if the government defaults august 2. susan ferrechio, what is the senate doing this week related to the debt discussions question like your piece talks about shared sacrifice. guest: that is a measure written by vermont senator bernie sanders, that would call for the senate to vote, i think thursday, a sense of the senate meaning it is not a binding measure, not something that will become law. wheat in of the senate believe that people who they consider wealthy -- we in the senate believe that people we consider what they should pay more to solve the debt issue -- in other words, pay more taxes. it does not specify how much more. but kind of a sense of the senate. you may wonder, what is the point of that? it does not say how much and it does not have the force of law.
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but it puts pressure on republicans on the issue of raising taxes, because that is the big sticking point. senate cancel their recess, and they did it for the purpose of dealing with the debt issue but there is no specific legislation of course. i think this is one way they are saying, look, we are trying to to we go live now to the u.s. capitol for marks and senate republican leaders on the debt and deficit talks this week. >> talking to the present one more time about the enormous issue that we have in front of us. whether we're going to do something about this $14 trillion of debt that we have, not to mention the over $50 trillion in unfunded liabilities on popular entitlement programs. this is the perfect time. as i've said repeatedly for months, a great opportunity to do something really big and important for the country. the president prefers a big package, we all do. i hope there'll be some kind of
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breakthrough tomorrow, maybe he could begin by telling us what he has in mind. we've had a difficult time trying to get a clear proposal out of the president and his people, and maybe that will be forthcoming tomorrow. that's my hope. senator kyl. >> i, too, look forward to seeing whether the present will come up with something tomorrow that will make the impasse. i want to speak about him pass for a moment. there's a sense republicans need to do something to make the president happy here in order to reach an agreement, and that making the president happy is to agree to some kind of tax hike. let's get back to what the fundamental question is. what's good for the economy? will put americans back to work again? what's the right medicine, once the wrong medicine? we are in a bad economic downturn, we know that. we have high unemployment. we know that. jobs are not being created in the country. what's the right medicine?
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is it to add more taxes onto the people who create jobs? the answer is no. so the opposition to tax increases is not because of some ideological fervor on the part of republicans. it simply is a response to the question, what is good for the patient in this case, and it's not adding more taxes on top of the patients burden. they are job creators and need help from the government, not hurt. >> the united states has tried a million is tax before. it was in 1969. that's exactly what it was called -- >> we will be this point as the u.s. senate is need to continue debate of the nonbinding measure saying those earning more than contribute more toi the federalr debt reduction. and now to live coverage of the u.s. senate here on t c-span2. 4th recess and the reason is so that we can continue working
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on this issue of reducing our deficit and our debt. and from my point of view, and i know i speak for many, doing it in a way that doesn't savage our senior citizens, our children, our families, our environment, our economic growth. and doing it in a way that's fair. it's fair, so that we don't wind up with people like warren buffett or donald trump paying more in an effective tax rate than their secretaries or a nurse or a firefighter. that's why we're here. that's why i'm here. now, i want to apologize to my constituents in california. i had to cancel several events that were scheduled, but we will do that certainly at another time. it is critical to end the current standoff and that, it seems to me, means sticking to three principles. first, we must agree that great nations do not default on their
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debt and both sides need to compromise so that that doesn't happen. nobody gets everything they want in a compromise. i speak as a senator, a former house member, a former county supervisor, a mother, a grandmother, a daughter. the fact is, you don't get everything you want if you're truly negotiating and compromising. you don't take your marbles and go home. you don't take your little teddy bear and leave. you stick with it and you understand that in true compromise, everyone gives just a little bit. now, let's look at the government as it is today, as the people wanted it. they decided they wanted a democratic president and we have one in president obama.
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they decided they wanted a republican house of representatives and they have that. and they decided they wanted a democratic united states senate and they have that. so you have the three arms and two-thirds of them are controlled by democrats and one by republicans. if i then said because of this, i want two-thirds of what democrats want, i could have a leg to stand on. but i'm not even saying that. i'm saying, let's meet each other halfway. that's the fair -- that's very fair. and i think most americans of independent mind would think so. this is not a parliamentary system. in a parliamentary system that we see around the world, the ruling party gets everything they want and the others get to talk. and maybe they can somehow work
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themselves into the equation. so first and foremost, we need to compromise. second, we need to take a lesson from history and follow what worked the last time we balanced the budget in the mid-1990's, the early to mid-1990's. and believe me, we did it. with president clinton, we did it. we passed a budget that some of my friends on the republican side said would be a disaster, it would never balance. it did. as a matter of fact, it produced surpluses. we passed the budget without one republican vote that laid out the plan that some of my republican friends said, we're going to go into a depression. we went into the longest period of sustained economic growth and 23 million to 24 million jobs created. so we know how to do this because, guess what? we did it before. we had a plan. it cut unnecessary spending.
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it asked the upper-income people, the very wealthiest among us, to pay a fair share, and it created all those jobs and we had surpluses. but our friends on the other side say, don't talk to us about that. we don't want to talk about it. we have to talk about it, because otherwise you're going to do what the republicans did to the seniors in their house budget, which is to end medicare as we know it. and to put the burden of all this on their backs and on the backs of the middle class. so first we need to compromise. second, we need to do what works, cut the things that you don't need, invest in the things that will create the jobs and ask the wealthy to pay their fair share. third, we have to put our country ahead of politics. and let me show you a couple of very interesting recent editorial comments, actually, they were yesterday or the day
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before. yesterday, actually. this is "usa today." "republican rigidity on taxes threatens to torpedo debt deal." "republican rigidity on taxes threatens to torpedo debt deal." "if the g.o.p. walkout is anything more than a negotiating tactic, it is breathtakingly irresponsible, considering the risks of default. the nation has used trillions of dollars in borrowed money to finance two wars, medicare's prescription drug program, and president bush's broad tax cuts -- all initiated with the g.o.p. controlling both the white house and the congress. now republicans have belatedly decided borrowing is bad, too, but they dogmatically resist even the most sensible and painless tax hikes." this says it all, mr. president. the "usa today."
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then there's an article -- then there's a david brooks, a leading republican columnist, who said, "if the debt ceiling talks fail, independent voters will see that democrats were willing to compromise but republicans were not. if responsible republicans do not take control, independents will conclude that republican fanaticism caused this default. they will conclude that republicans are not fit to govern. and they will be right." this is written by a leading republican -- well, actually i'd call him a leading intellect in the republican party. so we see here that people on the outside are noticing what's happening. you cannot take your marbles and go home when the full faith and credit of the united states of america is at stake. now, a lot of people think raising the debt ceiling is so you can do more spending in the
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future. no, no. raising the debt ceiling is to take care of the debts that were incurred in the past. two wars unpaid for, a huge tax cut to the millionaires and the billionaires unpaid for, a prescription drug benefit unpaid for while my republican friends said no, that medicare could not negotiate for lower prescription drug prices. so the cost of it's going, you know, just through the roof. so if we don't -- if we don't put revenues on the table, if we don't talk about closing those tax loopholes, those benefits to millionaires and billionaires, all the cuts go on the middle class and all you have to do is look at the ryan budget that passed the house to understand what's going to happen if we don't do this. now, the republicans had this budget and they gave it a name over there in the house. "the past to prosperity: restoring america's promise."
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well, i took some liberties and i wrote my own title. i think their budget is "the path to poverty: breaking america's promise." because that's what that budget does. the republican budget would end medicare as we know it. a 65-year-old who becomes eligible for medicare would pay more than $12,000 in health care costs the first year the plan goes into effect, twice as what they pay under current law. imagine a senior citizen, a grandma or great-grandma, who maybe lives off her social security, suddenly she's paying -- she's paying $6,000 for her health care, suddenly she's paying $12,000. well, that might as well just tell her she might as well forget it. she just has to get down on her knees and pray that she doesn't get sick. the republican budget -- but since that wasn't enough to pay for tax cuts for their rich friends, they cut medicaid by 49% by 2030.
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they cut pell grant -- and, by the way, that's -- a lot of that's nursing homes, paying for nursing homes for the poorest of the poor. the republican budget would cut education grant awards by half, half,1.4 million students would lose access to financial aid. that's what this country has been about, giving hope to our young people. and hope means an education. pell grants cut in half. they say over and over again, "washington doesn't have a tax problem. we have a spending problem." well, let's take a look at that. if you look at non-defense discretionary over the years, what you find out when you add in inflation, it hasn't grown at all, while the military spending has gone up 74%. so, clearly, we have a road map, just with fairness we can get to where we have to get. let's not keep cutting the
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things we've already cut. let's cut the waste, let's cut the fraud, let's cut the abuse and let's cut these tax expenditures. i'd ask for an additional five minutes and then i'll yield to my friend from utah. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered. mrs. boxer: thank you, very much. so defense spending, they may look at it but they're not happy about it, even though it's gone up 74% over the last ten years. now, again, we should look at warren buffett. warren buffett made the point that he paid only 17.7% tax -- he paid only a 17.7% tax on his $46 million in earnings, while his receptionist paid 30% on her wages. imagine. in 2008, the 400 richest income tax filers paid an effective rate of about 18%.
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take exxonmobil. they paid an effective rate of 18% on $7 billion, whereas the average family making a combined $100,000 had a higher effective rate. let's give tax breaks to the middle class, not to the wealthiest who have everything and more, whose children's children's children's children will be fine. this is america. this isn't pre-revolutionary france, where the king had everything. if there's a family supported by two teachers and they make $106,000, they had a higher tax rate than exxonmobil, but yet and still, if you look around the country at republican legislators and governors, they're going after the teache teachers. they're so wealthy. while the people who are making the millions and the billions, they're just giving more and more to. i don't understand it. it's trickle down. somehow somebody will spend something at the very top and it
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will trickle down. that's all fine, but they have enough to trickle down already. we don't have to add to it. a family supported by a truck driver and a dental hygienist made a combined $107,000 had a higher tax rate than exxonmobil. the tax break for corporate jets is $3 billion over ten years. subsidies to the biggest five oil companies costing us $21 billion over ten years. so what i'm saying is, we don't have to balance the budget on the backs of the senior citizens who need their medicare, on the students who need their pell grants. we don't need to do that. i'm the chairman of the environment and public works committee. the house budget which i say breaks america's promise, is so bad on transportation, it cuts 36% across the board.
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and thousands and thousands of construction workers, whether they're in utah or california or maryland, or you name your town, your city, will be cut. this in an area where there's been so much unemployment because of the housing crisis that you could fill 20 super bowl stadiums with unemployed construction workers. 2 million. that's how many there are. so look at what president clinton did. he increased taxes on the wealthiest. he created tax incentives for small business. he invested in education, retirement saving, research and development. the republicans fought up tooth and nail -- fought us tooth and nail. as a matter of fact, senator grassley said at the time, "i really do not think it takes a rocket scientist to know this bill will cost jobs." that's what he said. created 24 million jobs. 23 million on the low side. and surpluses of $236 billion. so let me just conclude by
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saying this, this is a tough time in our history. we are at the precipice for the first time in my lifetime of hearing threats of defaulting on the full faith and credit of america. when we lift the debt ceiling, we do it in order to pay for the debts that were incurred. and sadly for us, after having a surplus under bill clinton, the poeufls george w. bush caused -- the policies of george w. bush caused us to go into deep, deep holes and the deficit and the debt. we were on the way to a great place. but i'll never forget it when george w. came out and he said, i think that these surpluses we're running belong to the american people. and what he really meant, the rich people, because that's who got the lion's share of that. so we can keep the tax rates low for the middle class. we can make sure the wealthy pay
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their fair share. we can come to the table and negotiate with an open heart and an open mind, and knowing well that we won't get everything each of us wants. i will close by reading a quote from ronald reagan. president reagan, who in 1983 wrote the following: the full consequences of a default by the united states and even, he said, the serious prospect of a default are impossible to predict and awesome to contemplate. denigration of the full faith and credit of the united states would have substantial effects on the domestic financial markets and on the value of the dollar and exchange markets. the nation can ill afford to allow such a result. that's the end of the quote. president reagan was right, it's time to stop playing politics with this, the greatest country that gave us everything we've ever hoped for. and i say to americans, call the senate. ask for a fair budget plan with
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the parties meeting each other halfway. thank you very much, mr. president. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah is recognized. mr. hatch: mr. president, it's nice to hear asking for a fair budget plan, but we haven't had a budget from this administration now, how many days is it? almost 800 days. i mean, they've got control of the senate. yet, we haven't seen a tpwr-pblg this administration. -- seen a budget from this administration. i ask unanimous consent that i be allowed to speak for as long as i want to here. without objection, the senator is recognized. mr. hatch: i appreciate that. i get a little tired of hearing the obama approach taoerd shared sacrifice. shared sacrifice is is something. it sounds good. but i'd prefer the republican approach to shared prosperity. that's what i think we're all about. when you talk about shared sacrifice, think about this.
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it's pretty irrefutable that the bottom 51% of all wage earners, of all households do not pay income taxes. the top 1% of the so-called wealthy pay 38% of all income tax. the top 10% are paying 70% of all income tax. the top 50% pay somewhere near 98% of all income taxes. 51% don't pay anything. but democrats say they pay payroll taxes. well, everybody does that because that's social security. they pay about one-third of what they're going to take out over the years in social security. obamacare, a family of four earning over $80,000 a year gets subsidies. think about that. that's what we call the poor? they wonder why the monies don't go far enough. when are we going to wake up and
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realize that the other side just spends and spends and spends and they want to tax and tax and tax so they can spend some more. my gosh, when are we going to wake up in this country and realize they're spending us into oblivion? i hear how they're so caring for the poor and so forth. the poor need jobs. they also need to share some of the responsibility. now, we don't want the really poor people who are in poverty to have to pay income taxes. but 51% of all households. and that's going up, by the way, because of our friend down in the white house and his allies. i wish i didn't like him so much, i'd like to really be able to let go here, but i like him personally. and i want him to be successful. but he's not going to be successful by just taxing the daylights out of everybody
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around here. mr. president, this congress is currently engaged in as consequential and political debate as this country has seen in decades. whether and under what conditions we raise the nation's debt ceiling is a question that has consumed the markets and the nation. i serve the people of utah, and i hear about this issue every day, the sustainability of a government that has grown far beyond any reasonable or constitutional limits and the cost of paying for all of this government is foremost on the minds of tax-paying citizens who will be left holding the bag even when president obama is back in hyde park and members of congress no longer serve. the decision to spend less only for a moment, but the debt incurred to pay for these government programs lasts forever. 51% of all households don't pay income taxes. the democrats say they pay payroll taxes. they do. everybody does because that's social security. and 23 million of them get refundable tax credits that are
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more than they pay in payroll taxes. i wish i could report to my constituents that washington is serious about addressing this spending problem. unfortunately, in the last week we seem to have hit a new low. president obama's contribution last week was a press conference slashes temper tan trim where he offered up policy proposals that might appeal to his left-wing base but will do nothing to avoid the bankruptcy. the senate leadership in the senate offered a nonbinding resolution designed solely to score some cheap political points that will jazz up the activist left to demagogic class warfare and individuals with high incomes. he's going to raise $3 billion over ten years by taxing jet planes. it will take a thousand years to reach what we have as a deficit
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this year just from that one tax, to jack up enough money to pay for just the deficit this year. facing a full-blown debt crisis, this is how the senate democrats following the president's lead have chosen to spend this week, debating a nonbinding resolution. episodes like this lead me to believe the only solution is a balanced budget amendment. only a specific constitutional restraint will force congress to make the tough decisions necessary to rein the size of government, restore the integrity of the states and protect the liberties of the american citizens and taxpayers. to demonstrate my commitment to restoring constitutional limits on the federal government, i've signed the cut, cap and balance pledge along with a growing number of my colleagues in the senate, members of the house and grass roots groups and presidential candidates, i've committed myself to cutting spending, capping spending, and passing a balanced budget
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constitutional amendment as a condition for any debt limit increase. as this debate over how best to address our growing debt and annual deficits continues, i want to address a technical but critical matter in these negotiations. and i'm talking about tax expenditures. i'm working on the senate finance committee, and i know a little bit about these. over the next few days i'm going to discuss this matter of tax expenditures and debt. today i'm going to talk in general about what a tax expenditure is and what a tax expenditure is not. i will next turn to the tax policy areas implicated by current tax expenditures. homeownership is favored in our tax base with a tax expenditure. there is a deduction for home mortgage interest. a deduction for real property taxes, and an exclusion for income from home sales. the tax code, these are tax expenditures. the tax code also encourages charitable contributions.
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charitable deductions are available to citizens when they give to a nonprofit crisis pregnancy center, when they put money in the basket at church or give money to their alma mater, just to mention a few charitable donations. in a third speech i will attempt to shed light on a widespread misconception about tax expenditures. that misconception that tax expenditures disproportionately benefit high-income taxpayers. let's not get ahead of ourselves. my remarks today are remarks about what a tax expenditure is. unfortunately, my remarks are also largely about democrats' plans to increase taxes. president obama and his liberal allies are calling for a balanced approach on a revenue piece to deficit reduction. they want shared sacrifice. i want shared prosperity. we hear this from the press all the time. new revenues need to be a part of any deal to reduce the
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deficit. these are simply code words for a tax hike, and i guarantee you, if we raise taxes, my friends on the other side will spend every dime of it. that's how they kept themselves in power and claiming that they're helping the poor. whereas 51% of our households so poor that they can't participate in saving this country. it is clear that the professional left is insisting that president obama include tax increases in any negotiated agreement to raise the debt ceiling. threading this tax hike needle to an electorate resistant to giving the government more money to spend is no easy task. though his campaign team talks a big game about the popularity of tax increases, the president's own words suggest otherwise. last week in a shameful display of class warfare, the president did specifically call for some tax increases on the rich. that includes 800,000 small
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businesses, by the way, where 70% of the jobs come from. but that is the exception that proves the rule. by and large, the president avoids the effectual truth of his mission to get rid of tax expenditures. massive tax increases on the middle-class american families to whom he promised immunity from tax increases when he was running for president. instead he and other members of the party of tax stph-rss every day -- tax increases as spending through the tax code. how serious should we take his rhetoric? when the president said he wanted to address the nation's debt by reducing spending through the tax code, it proved too much for even john stewart. this was stewart's analysis of the president's contention that we could reduce the deficit by attacking spending through the tax code. quote -- "you manage to talk about a tax hike as a spending reduction. can we afford that and the royalty checks you're going to have to send to george orwell? that's the weirdest way of 'just
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say tax hike.' that's like saying i'm not going on a diet. i'm going to add calories to my excluded food intake." unquote. that was jon stewart. he hit the nail on the head. for sure it's easy to make fun but what the president is trying to do with tax expenditures is no laughing matter. liberals talk about tax expenditures as though they were just getting rid of wasteful spending. first, as a legal matter, tax expenditures are not spending. outlays are checks cut from the treasury department are defined as spending under the congressional budget act. that's what spending is. yet, most tax expenditures only lose revenue and do not include an outlay portion. tax expenditures that only lose revenue contain no spending as defined by the congressional budget act and is scored by the official scorekeepers for congress. the joint committee on taxation and the congressional budget office. and second, as a policy matter
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twhe comes to tax -- when it comes to tax expenditures, one person's loophole is another person's opportunity to save for college and retirement, finance a home and ties to your -- taoeugts -- tithes to your church. reducing tax expenditures is a tax increase unless a tax cut of equal, of an equal or greater amount is enacted. one crucial myth i would like to expose is tax expenditures are spending. this chart revenue loss does not equal spending. the federal government cannot spend money that it never touched and never possessed. what tax expenditures do is let taxpayers keep more of their money, of their own money. the american people are the ones that earn their money through their ideas, their risk and their labor. whether you are a successful business owner or part-time worker just starting out, the money that you earn is yours. it is your money.
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and only by your consent is the government permitted to take some of it in taxation to pay for certain public goods. but democrats have a different view, and it is this view, one that is fundamentally at odds with our classical liberal constitution and our founders' respect for property rights that contributes to the confusion over tax expenditures. liberals think that all of the money that you earn belongs to the government. you have no independent right to the fruit of your own labors because only by big government are you ever able to make something of yourself. this view is foreign to most americans, republicans or democrats. it is a view that alexander hamilton and benjamin franklin would take issue with. but this is the political philosophy of the modern left. so when you hear tax hike proponents come to the senate floor and say we're giving these businesses and individuals all this money in tax expenditures,
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they're incorrectly assuming that the government has that money to give in the first place. the government does not have this money to give. that money belongs first to the people that earned it, those businesses and individuals that are american taxpayers. there are critical differences between spending and tax expenditures. for one thing, the government never touches the money that a taxpayer keeps due to benefiting from a tax expenditure, whereas with spending, the government actually collects money from the taxpayers and then it spends it. here's a more telling difference. reducing or eliminating a tax expenditure without lowering rates enough to reach a revenue-neutral level will cause the size of the federal government to grow. while reducing or eliminating spending causes the size of the federal government to shrink. now, i am open to looking at eliminating or reducing some tax expenditures as part of comprehensive tax reform, but only if tax rates are lowered
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enough to reach a revenue-neutral level. alternativetively, reduction or elimination of tax expenditures could be balanced with new tax cuts that are of equal or greater value to the revenue generated by the eliminated expenditures. but if tax expenditures are reduced or eliminated without tax rates being lowered enough to reach a revenue-neutral level, that is a tax increase plain and simple. we have made clear that as a matter of law and political theory, tax expenditures are not spending. now, let's turn to an examination of what they are. fortunately, we do have the definitions available. the joint committee on taxation generally defines tax expenditures as deliberate departures from generally accepted concepts of net income, usually by way of special exemptions, deductions, credits or exclusions. therefore, tax expenditures generally arise for individual income taxes and corporate
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income taxes. the treasury department differs from the joint committee on taxation slightly in how it defines a tax expenditure. for example, the joint committee on taxation labels deferral as a tax expenditure but treasury does not. but whichever definition one uses, it is clear that the president and the liberal proponents of tax increases are using their own politically motivated dictionary. tax expenditures have been erroneously described as -- by many as -- quote -- "loopholes "loopholes" -- unquote. this is deliberately inaccurate. a loophole is something the congress did not intend, would generally shut down at least going forward once it learned of the loophole. tax expenditures by contrast were generally placed by congress into the tax code deliberately. for example, the largest tax expenditure is the exclusion for employer-provided health insurance and benefits. that's a tax expenditure.
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the second largest tax expenditure is the home mortgage interest deduction. we all know why they are there, and they are there for good reason. tax expenditures are not loopholes. we are not talking here about some fancy tax scheme that a lawyer or accountant has discovered and now promotes to his clients as a way to game the system. these are broad-based tax incentives that benefit many americans. the deduction for charitable contributions is not some loophole. it was a deliberate inclusion in the code that acknowledges the need for a religious citizen to contribute to their churches. even some of the smaller dollar tax expenditures were designed by congress to go to particular industries or types of taxpayers. for example, the tax expenditure to encourage the purchase of corporate jets that democrats included in the stimulus and that the president is now criticizing. now, whether you agree with these particular tax expenditures or not, an honest
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debate requires recognition that they were designed by congress with economic and social goals in mind and are not inadvertent loopholes. as a matter of law, policy and constitutional government, i fundamentally disagree with those who are pushing these tax increases as part of a deal to raise the debt limit. -- or the debt ceiling. my problem is spending that has grown out of control, not the lack of revenue. according to c.b.o.'s june, 2011, long-term budget outlook, taxes are already heading higher than they have historically been. from 1971-2010, revenues as a percentage of g.d.p. have averaged 18%. since the post-world war ii era from 1946-2010, revenues were 17.7% of g.d.p. yet c.b.o. also projects that revenues as a percentage of g.d.p. will exceed 20% by 2021. even if all the bipartisan tax relief contained in the 2001 and
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2003 tax acts is extended, revenues as a percentage of g.d.p. will increase to 18.4%. so i ask the question, with taxes already going higher than where they have been historically, should we raise them even more? for me, the answer is no. i know that most utahans would agree, and i believe most people in this country would agree. i suspect that even most democrats would as well. they certainly would if president obama and the liberals who pose as advocates for the middle class came clean about just how high taxes would have to go on working families to pay for the hard-core less preferred level of government. the numbers don't lie. the deficit is a symptom of out-of-control spending that has grown dramatically in recent years and is reaching crisis levels. it is not a result of too little in taxes. democrats can close all the loopholes they want and it still won't balance the books. and the democrats who are talking about the need to close loopholes and eliminate spending
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through the tax code need to be asked which middle-class tax relief they want to get rid of as part of their deficit reduction plan. do they want to get rid of the charitable deduction or maybe the mortgage interest deduction? maybe they want to go after people's 401-k's or i.r.a.'s or 529's. what's it going to be? let me just say something here. i'm really concerned about where we're going. we have risen this year to 25.3% of g.d.p. in spending. last time we hit that figure was in 1945 at the height of the second world war when the government was taking over almost everything to keep us from losing that war. it's certainly over 23% right now. what's it going to be? at his press event/tantrum last
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week, the president answered absolutely none of these questions, none. he needs to otherwise -- he needs to get serious about cutting spending. mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll of the senate. quorum call: mr. hatch: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. hatch: i ask that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. hatch: i ask unanimous consent that the division of time under the quorum call be divided equally. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. hatch: i thank you, mr. president.
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quorum call:
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mr. hatch: i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll of the senate. quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from arkansas. mr. boozman: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. boozman: it has been almost 800 days since the senate has produced a budget proposal. i don't expect one to appear from the majority today, but at least the democratic majority canceled the fourth of july recess to work toward an agreement to deal with our budgetary crisis. with the possibility of default looming, our caucus, led by senator sessions, has been pushing the democratic majority to keep the chamber working over the recent recesses. after refusing past calls to remain in session, the democratic majority finally recognized that we can't sort this out if we aren't here to focus on it. i for one am glad that the democratic majority listened. the american people deserve an
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honest, open conversation about the very difficult situation that we are in. more importantly, they deserve a commitment that we will work in good faith to end this impasse. unfortunately, i'm not sure that we will get that from the democratic majority or the president. we are in session this week specifically to deal with the budget ceiling crisis, and the only vote the majority leader had scheduled from the outset was a resolution on the libya conflict. i say had because the democratic majority rightly canceled that vote after intense pressure from our side to keep the senate focused on the debt ceiling issue. and president obama has been absent from this debate for months. only recently, he started showing up to tell americans that his solution to the crisis is raising taxes instead of cutting spending.
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meanwhile, we venture closer and closer towards defaulting on our obligations. it's interesting that we are here today specifically to work out a solution to our financial crisis one week after scenes of athens on fire as a result of rioting over greece's own debt crisis dominated the airwaves. one week after passing tough austerity measures to secure further financial aid, the very same measures that sparked the rioting, the greek government is far from out of the woods. standard and poor's says the proposals for restructuring greek debt would effectively have constituted a default instead of helping the country avoid one. so i mention all of this not to generate fear but rather to shed light on the gravity of our situation. we could very well end up like greece if we do not handle this crisis properly.
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this is the last thing we want to experience in our great country, and that is why we need to reform our fiscal policy in the way that we have -- and the way that we have done business in the past. there is too much at stake not to take action now. we're at a point where our nation can no longer borrow money. the i.m.f. has harsh words for our debt, and credit ratings like moody's and s&p have threatened to downgrade our economic rating. president obama likes to blame our economic mess on the previous administration, but the reality is over the past two years, our debt has increased 35% under his watch. that's not the previous administration's fault, nor is it their fault that the annual deficit is now three times greater than the highest deficit during the bush years. if american families ran their households like washington runs its budget, the utilities would be shut off and collection agencies would be knocking on their doors. if they mixed -- if they maxed
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out a credit card, they wouldn't have the luxury of telling someone tolls pay for their bills, yet this is what the president is demanding by sticking to tax increase proposals. i said this here last week, but since the president continues to push tax increases as the answer, i will say it again. president obama, take tax hikes off the table. we got into this mess by excessively spending. we can't fix the problem unless we stop excessively spending. but the white house remains focused on tax hikes. if you look at their agenda, you can see why. the big-ticket items they've already passed. specifically, the president's stimulus, and health care bills have put our country on the path of unprecedented levels of spending that will keep us in the red for my lifetime, my children's lives and well beyond. the administration's refusal to cut excessive spending, much of which the nation never asked
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for, will put us on the course for a greek-like catastrophe. without action, annual interest payments on the national debt alone will exceed 40% of g.d.p. by 2080. so with that in mind, the president is working behind closed doors with his alace in congress -- with his allies in congress to figure out ways to raise revenue. as we all know, revenue is a washington euphemism for taxes. instead of further exasperating our economy by raising taxes and putting us in a position that it will affect our recovery and our nation's future. mr. president, the solution must be on the problem: washington does not have a revenue problem. we have a spending problem. any proposal that does not start
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in that truth should be taken off the table. if the white house proposal does not include specific cuts and a spending cap mechanism to prevent us from having to raise it again, then i can assure you they cannot get my vote. anything sthoofort sir responsible. i know i am newt loan in these demands. many of thigh colleagues feel just as stroppingly and will not back down either. the president and the senate democratic majority needs to understand we are committed to these principles because millions of americans feel exactly the same as we do. we are here to do the people's work. let's listen to them instead of trying to tell the people what's best for them. mr. president, i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll of the senate. quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. brown: thank you,
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mr. president. i ask unanimous consent to dispense with the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection, the senator is recognized. mr. brown: i ask unanimous consent to speak in morning business for up to ten minutes. the presiding officer: the senator is recognized. mr. brown: thank you, mr. president. i -- july 5 -- we just went through the july 4th weekend celebrating our independence since july 4, 1776. july 5, 76 years ago, our country -- something else happened pretty -- very, very important in our country and very, very symbolic of what we stand for pass a nation. i've heard the presiding officer from maryland just talk a moment ago about the values we hold ras a nation and how important that is to convey those values in everything we do in this body. and what happened on july 5, 1935, was president roosevelt signed something called the national labor relations act. and we know that what came out of the national labor relations act and the other reforms of that era, in addition to social
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security and some -- the c.c. and some other things, was the concept and the implementation of collective bargaining. and collective bargaining is a right that the american people have to join voluntarily in a collective bargaining unit, if you will, generally a labor union, and negotiate on behalf of hundreds or thousands of fellow workers wages and health care and pensions and other kinds of -- vacation days and other things like that. and i mention that today because, just late last week in ohio, something remarkable happened in my state of ohio. in columbus, in response to the state legislature taking away those collective bargaining rights in a radical departure from 75 years of collective bargaining national private-sector success and 30 years of ohio collective bargaining for public employees
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success, the legislature passed a radical act earlier this year to take away those collective bargaining rights for public employees. we know about that. we know it is a direct assault on the middle class. we know it will mean declining, shrinking middle class. we know that the biggest threat to our middle-class today, to our country's families, the biggest stlet that the middle complas is shrinking and that the middle class is declining. so when the legislature -- and i call them radicals because it really is a direct hit, a direct violation of what we stand for as a nation, the right to organize and bargain collectively voluntarily -- we have seen the -- these public employees and who knows what's next? -- have these rights taken away. and we know what's next?
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public wage, all the things that pro-corporate conservative politicians have tried to do for some years. but we basically had a consensus in this country, we have a consensus around medicare, a consensus around minimum wage, a consensus around drinking water and clean acres a consensus about collective bargaining rights that 80--90% of the country agreed on. we disagreements on the environment, on safe drink water, on comairks but by and large there was a consensus on what we did here. but what we saw earlier this year in ohio was an assault directly on those volumes. they're going after collective bargaining rights. they're going after women's rights in washington they're going after medicare. all of those kind of things that we had a consensus on. so what happened last week, mr. president, is something remarkable. in ohio, unlike many states, you can actually after a bill passes and becomes larks signed by the
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governor, you have 90 days to gather signatures -- i believe in ohio you need about 250,000 signatures -- to place on the ballot or referendum. if this goes on the ballot, the voters have a chance to repeal that bill. so when the radicals in the legislature took away collective bargaining rights and the republican governor signed it a group of ohio citizens put on the ballot a repeal of that taking away collective bargaining rights. they needed about 250,000 signatures. you know how many they got? they submitted last week 1.3 million signatures, 1.3 million people signed saying we want this to go on the ballot to repeal this radical measure that state legislative republicans -- no democrats in either house voted for this to take away -- to repeal what they were doing. 1.3 million people, signatures. in fact, they grot a whole -- they brought a whole truckload of boxes of sights and in the
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sght secretary of state's office they had to send in a structural engineer to make sure that the floor -- i think it is on the 14th floor -- i don't recall for sure -- but to make sure the floor could support the weight of these 1.3 million signatures. that tells me -- and i note senator cardin and senator whitehouse when they come to the floor oftentimes talk about the overreerchtion the radical nature of what conservative far-right politicians are doing in this country right now. the overreach, going after bargaining rights, going after comairks going after minimum wage, putting tax breaks ands -- tax breaks are really earmarks for the rich, in the ttach code. all of these kinds of things they're trying to do and unravel so much of what we fought for for so many years. the good news in ohio this week 1.3 million people said we're not going to stand for this, we're not going to tolerate this radical overreach that the governor and legislatures are doing in columbus and house republicans and far too many
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members of the senate are doing in this body. mr. president, that's good news. i think we move forward from there. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. mr. cardin: first let me thank the senator from ohio, senator brown, for his leadership for working families. we were colleagues in the house of representatives, there was "no" no more effective voice on behalf of working families. and then congressman brown, now senator brown. i want to thank him for bringing these issues to our attention. there's been an all-out assault on the dignity of working families in this country at all levels. i am going to talk a little bit about the budget deliberations because i believe here also we find an assault upon middle-income families and as president kennedy said, to governor is to choose. we've never had a clearer choice of two different visions of america. and i want to talk a little bit about that. because i know we're all working hard to reach a fair compromise,
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and i am you a one of those -- and i'm one of those who believe that the final agreement will not be what the democrats want or the rentes want. we'll have to do a compromise. i see the republicans who are -- heard some of the speeches just recently given on the floor, who are really trying to protect the very wealthy, the millionaires. in the republican budget, the millionaires would get another $200,000 of tax cuts. while at the same time that budget would cost our seniors who live on fixed incomes an extra $6,000 a year in health care costs if their plan on medicare were to become law. that's the types of choices we're being asked to make here. we're being asked to continue the gas subsidies, the tax subsidies for the five biggest gas companies in this country. that's what the republican budget would protect. they would protect those tax breaks. let me just remind you that those five companies in the last
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decade made $1 trillion -- profits. that during the time that we saw escalating gas prices here and our economy being hurt by it, people couldn't afford to fill up their cars with gasoline, couldn't afford to fill up the tanks, yet at the same time these five oil companies had record profits. so we say, let's take away the government subsidies. and yet the choice for our republican friends is to say, "no," we can't do that. instead, they look at cutting nutrition programs and pell grants, making it more expensive for children to go to college or nutrition programs to try to have a healthier america. well, what we're pushing for is a balanced approach in how we deal with this budget deficit. we can talk a long time how we got here, the policies of the previous administration. it was just ten years ago we had these large surpluses.
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then the previous administration cut taxes not once but twice, the second time using a credit card in order to pay for those tax cuts. went to war, not in one country but in two countries, used a credit card in order to pay for those wars. i'm wonderinand wondering why wl this debt today. well, it's our responsibility to take care of this deficit because this deficit is affecting the strength of america. and we know that we need to have a balanced approach in order to do it. i, along with the presiding officer, are members of the budget committee. we're working hard in the budget committee to come up with a way that we can do it. the democrats on that committee are united that there's a better way than the republican budget that came over from the house of representatives. let me just talk a little bit about whether this is a class warfare. i've heard that mentioned many times. this might surprise you. i might agree with my republican friends. i think the republican budget is an attack on class. the center for budget and policy priorities said -- and i
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quote -- about the republican budget, "it would produce the largest redistribution of income from the bottom to the top in modern u.s. history." we're asking the poor and working families to contribute so the wealthy can get more tax breaks. that's just wrong. what we want to see is a balanced approach, an approach that says, look, this deficit's very serious. we've got to ask and save money wherever we can to balance the federal budget. starts with looking at our domestic spending. we've been willing to say, look, programs that are not high-priority programs, we've got to cut back on those programs. programs that aren't work, we're going to have to eliminate. duplicate programs, let's get rid of. we said we're prepared to do that. but we've also got to look at our -- at the nondomestic programs, our military programs, our security programs.
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we know that we're in the process now of bringing our combat troops home from afghanistan. that can produce savings. let's use that to reduce the budget deficit. there are ways that we can get this deficit down. and then -- listening to one of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle talk about the so-called tax expenditures. let me put this in context for one moment. our tax code spends about $1.4 trillion a year in special provisions that give special breaks to different taxpayers. i think none of us are saying that all of these should be eliminated. but what we are saying, when you find tax loopholes, when you find shelters, when you find tax havens, let's get rid of them. i've taken the floor to talk about two areas where i think there's broad consensus: the ethanol subsidy. we don't need it any longer. it's questionable whether we ever needed it.
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the industry will do just fine without the subsidy. but let me tell you what the subsidy causes. it causes my poultry farmers in maryland to pay a lot more for their corn, costing jobs in maryland. so there's a tax subsidy that we can get rid of. we had a vote on the floor and it was quite obvious that the majority -- overwhelming majority agree with that. why can't we use that for deficit reduction? talked about the gas industry, why are we giving them subsidies? there's no need for that. so we can take those shelters, we can take those havens, we can take these loopholes and use that. and, yes, i think there is a question why millionaires are going to continue to get a tax cut that was meant to be temporary in nature, when you need as much revenue as we can to pay off our bills. i think there is an issue here whether that's fair. how do we tell students they have to pay more for college? how do we tell families that fewer will be able to go to head
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start programs. programs? how do we tell our seniors they have to pay more and yet we tell the millionaires they're going to get additional tax cuts? that's just not fair and it doesn't make good sense for our economy. so there's a better way. i know my colleague from rhode island is going to speak next. he also serves on the budget committee. well, the democrats, we have a better way of doing this. we know how we can reduce the budget deficit by even more than the simpson-bowles deficit commission did, where we can bring in the deficit and bring it under control to make it a reasonable amount of our economy rather than uncontrolled, as it is today. we can do that by bringing in not just domestic spending but also our defense spending in order to reduce more spending in this country. we can do that. and we can do it in a way that protects the integrity of medicare. we don't want our seniors at the
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risk of private insurance companies. we don't want private insurance companies tells our seniors when they can get care and when they can't. we tried that before we created medicare and we know the problems that were created by that. so our budget, we want to protect the integrity of social security and medicare and the programs that are critically important to our seniors. we will close the tax loopholes. we will eliminate shelters. we will make sure that everybody is part of the solution. and we can do it in a way that will help build this great nation. let me just tell you what our objectives are, quite frankly. our objective is to manage our deficit, bring it down, bring it in control in a real way, protect those who are most vulnerable in our community, and to invest in america's future so we can create more jobs, so that we can continue to build our roads, our bridges, our water systems in this country. so that we can continue to invest in education.
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and, yes, so we can protect our federal work force and pay them decent sal expriz compensation and -- salaries and compensation and benefits. we can do all that. but, mr. president, if we're going to get the job done, democrats and republicans have to be honest in their debate and their compromise. and it will not be what one side wants. we're going to have to compromise for the good of the american people. i took the time today to share with the people of maryland and the nation where i believe our vision should be in regards to the budget of this nation. i hope we're able to achieve those objectives because i really do believe our children and grandchildren future depends upon us getting this right. and if we work together, we can pass a budget that's in the best interests of the american peop people, allow our economy to grow to create jobs, which is the best answer to deal with our deficit. and with that, mr. president, i would yield the floor. mr. whitehouse: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: thank you, mr. president. i'm honored to follow my distinguished colleague from maryland into this discussion
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about our priorities as we address the debt limit that we're proasmght i think that the leader -- leader reid was wise to choose to cancel the scheduled 4th of july recess so we can continue to work toward an agreement to prevent defaulting by the united states on our government debt and the financial consequences that would ensue here in america and around the world. as we negotiate an end to this debt limit standoff, we also obviously have to address our looming budget deficits and our looming debt which threaten to cripple our potential for economic growth in years to come. where we are on this, of course, is that president clinton put our budget on course to permanent surpluses. we would be a debt-free nation right now if the predictions that the nonpartisan budget office had put in place when president clinton left office
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had been kept. but, in fact, there were changes. president bush and a republican congress squandered away those surpluses with unnecessary tax cuts and unwise spending increases, and our multitrillion-dollar deficits have resulted. we must now fix the budget and bring it back into balance. so where are we in this standoff? well, we need to cut spending. democrats and republicans agree on that. we need protect ordinary families who enjoy ordinary levels of income from tax increases. democrats and republicans agree on that. the disagreement is whether we also need to raise some revenues in other areas to help balance the budget. areas like oil and gas and ethanol subsidies, closing corporate tax loopholes, and putting an end to high-income tax dodge schemes. on that front, i rise in support
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of leader reid's resolution calling for a deficit-reduction package that includes a more meaningful contribution from millionaires and billionaires. the republicans are threatening that they'd rather let this government default on its obligations than to, what they call, raise revenues by requiring the wealthy to pay their fair share. just last week, senate republican leader mitch mcconnell called on president obama to take any raised revenues off the table and to balance the budget solely on spending cuts that affect the middle class and lower-income families. in an opinion piece on, senator mcconnell proclaimed tax hikes can't pass the congress. well, let's pull the curtain back and take a little glimpse behind the curtain at who the republicans are fighting so hard to protect. here's a building in new york stow park avenue, the helmsley
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building. because this building is large enough to have its very own zip code, we know from actual i.r.s. information -- not projections, not guesses, not conclusions drawn from rates -- from actual paid-in i.r.s. information, that the wealthy and successful individuals and corporations that call this building home paid a 14.7% total federal tax rate in the last year that they've done the calculation, 2007. that is lower than the actual tax rate, on average, of the new york city janitor or doorman or security guard who would work in this building. it is upside-down. the people who serve the occupants of this building pay a higher tax rate than the occupants of this majestic building. the tax gimmicks that let those
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occupants pay a lower rate than the people who take care of the door and the cleaning and the security for them, that is what the republicans are fighting to protect. and this problem isn't just a fluke in the helmsley building. each year, the internal revenue service publishes a report that adds up all the taxes paid by the 400 highest income earning americans. i spoke earlier this year, several times actually, on last year's report, which included data from 2007, like the same year as the helmsley building. in that year, these super high-income earners, making on average a third of a billion dollars approximately -- a billion with a "b" -- they paid a lower tax rate in 2007, the 400 of them did on average, than an average hospital orderly who's a single payer pushing a cart down the halls of rhode island hospital at night.
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in may, the i.r.s. published updated data on the top 400 income earners for 2008. let's take a look at the status of the top 400 earners in that more recent year. well, they're down from a third of a billion dollars, on average, to over a quarter of a billion dollars each. and certainly we can applaud that kind of success in america. that's definitely the american dream come true. but, on average, they paid an average tax rate of 18.2%. that's what they actually paid. that's what they put into the i.r.s. once you get through all the tax dodges, all the different schemes, all the different deductions, all the different rates. when you actually put the pen to the paper at the bottom line, it's 18.2%. we spent a lot of time around here debating whether the top income tax rate should be 35% or 39.6%.
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folks, that is not what they are paying. the tax code is so filled with special provisions that tend to exclusively or disproportionately benefit the wealthy, that the highest 400 income earners paying -- earning more than of a quarter of a billion dollars in one year paid an average tax rate of 18.2%. the -- this means that the 400 highest-earning individuals in the nation in 2008 paid the same effective tax rate as a truck driver in rhode island. according to the bureau of labor statistics, on average, an ordinary truck driver earns $40,200, which is about the place in the tax code on the way up where you first hit paying 18.2% of your income in taxes. so what the republicans are asking as part of the debt limit compromise is that we cut employment and job-training
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support now, at a time of record joblessness, while they continue to fight to make sure that people making a quarter of a billion dollars a year pay lower federal tax rates than average middle-class families. here's another building that has a little story to tell. this is a building called ugland house. it's over in the cayman islands. this building doesn't look like much. it's pretty nontkes script but over 18,000 corporations claim to be doing business out of this building. 18,000 out of that little building. clearly what is going on is that those corporations are hiding through shell companies phony corporate identities that they and wealthy taxpayers use to hide assets and play tax games with the i.r.s. this kind of mischief down in the cayman islands and elsewhere
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through these tax dodges is estimateed to cost us as much as $100 billion every year. as part of a debt limit compromise, the republicans are asking us to cut america's investment in science, cut america's investments in technology. and at the same time they're fighting to protect corporations that hide in offshore tax havens so that the honest american taxpayer has to pick up the burden for them. that's what they're fighting for when you pull back the curtain on this. when all is said and done, everyone, democrat and republican, agree that there need to be cuts. and everyone, republican and democrat, agrees that there should be no tax increases on ordinary middle-class families. those concerns are not at issue. where is the dispute? what is the blockade? again, pull back the curtain, and you'll see that the republicans are willing to let us as a nation default for the first time in our history on our debts, which would devastate our economy.
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all to defend tax rates for millionaires and billionaires that are lower than those paid by regular, hardworking americans. all to defend offshore tax havens that are used to evade taxes while ordinary families are expected to pay their taxes. all to defend corporate and special interest tax loopholes, earmarks for the wealthy and well-connected. that's where they've chosen to stand their ground. that's where they've chosen to pick a fight. as our nation rushes towards the august 2 deadline and the agreement deadline before august 2, we have to have something in place in order to get the president's signature on a bill by august 2. as we rush towards that, as the world's economy and america's economy are imperilled by the threat of our debt limit not being lifted. what are they fighting for? that's what they're fighting for. for the superrich, for the super
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well-connected, for the tax dodgers they take advantage of. those are the interests that republicans are protecting when they reject any revenue increases to bring down our unsustainable deficits. they say it's tax increases that they're against. well, the answer to that should be americans asking the question back: tax increases for whom? because if it's tax increase for the guy who's making a quarter of a billion dollars and is paying a lower tax rate than a truck driver, that's okay with me. that's a tax dodge we can get rid of. it's a tax increase for a company that's going to hide in this building in the cayman islands to shelter its income so that rhode island corporations and oregon corporations, american corporations have to make up the difference? american taxpayers have to make up the difference, and they can't hide their income down there any longer? that's a tax increase i can live with. i don't think that's what the ordinary american has in mind when they say we don't want tax
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increases. they mean we don't want our rates to go up. but ordinary americans know that our tax code is filled, riddled with gimmicks and tricks and loopholes and deductions that have been put in it over the years by lobbyists. they are earmarks. they just happen to be earmarks in the tax code. and they spend america's money through the tax code just as much as if it was an appropriation. but what's the big difference? the big difference is it takes being a very wealthy individual or a very big corporation to be able to take advantage of those tricks, to be able to hire a lobbyist who can build that trick into the tax code and to have the revenues and the resources to be able to maneuver through the tax code that way. ordinary americans don't do that. you can ask pretty much anybody in rhode island, show them the thousands of pages of the
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internal revenue code and ask them who's got a special provision in it for you. nobody does. they're regular americans. they pay regular taxes. they do things the way they're supposed to be done. the gimmicks and the tricks are all at the upper end. and it's time to clean house action particularly now when we so badly need the revenues to balance our budget. mr. president, it is inexcusable that our taxpayers allows billionaires to pay less taxes than truck drivers. even if we had no budget deficits, just being fair, just honoring the principle of equality would demand we address these inexcusable discrepancies that favor the wealthy and the well connected. our budget crisis, however, brings real urgency to the problem. so as we continue to work to
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avoid a debt default by the united states of america and to bring down our budget deficits and to reduce our crippling national debt, i hope senator mcconnell and the republican conference will revisit the potential to significantly cut the deficit by addressing the tax loopholes, tax gimmicks and, frankly, outright injustice to the ordinary american taxpayer that they are now defending here in the senate. i thank the chair. i see the distinguished senator from alabama arriving, and i will yield the floor. mr. sessions: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. sessions: mr. president, i understand that president obama
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has summoned certain congressional leaders to the white house tomorrow to discuss spending debt and deficits and the debt limit that we now operate under. the president has summoned congressional leaders to the white house on at least eight different occasions in recent weeks to discuss budget and debt issues not including the private talks involving vice president biden. yet, with only weeks fog before the debt limit deadline, we're told august 2, secret discussions have failed to produce any grand bargain. talk is not an action. i do think that's a problem the president has. he thinks making a speech or having an announcement is something that actually involves
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changing course in america tanned has some effect when it's pretty clear it does not. we've had lots of talks. we've had lots of speeches. so i think we should stop paying attention to these private talks from which no details emerge and no public discussion occurs. we are getting much too close to the point at which it will be too late to involve the public and allow do think fulfill its constitutional duty on spending and taxing. in remarks yesterday the president" to truly solve our debt problem, we need to take on spending and domestic programs and defense programs and entitlement program." well, i agree. yet, the only plan he's put forward proposed increases in
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his spending for next year in the budget he submitted. he submitted a budget earlier this year. he made a speech backing tpwrae it a little bit -- backing away from it a little bit but not a lot, because the speech when we carefully tried to study it didn't do much to change what the trajectory in his budget. but this is what the budget calls for next year, that we're supposed to be working on now, and are not. this budget proposes to increase spending in 2012 -- beginning october 1, 2012. well, the inflation rate is projected to be 1.3%. it may be higher. defense calls for a 4.3% increase in spending for defense. energy department called for an 8.9% increase in energy
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department. that big bureaucracy that spends its time trying to make sure that we block, it seems, production of american energy. permatoriums and off limits to produce energy. it proposes for the state department 9.3% increase in spending and the education department a 13% increase in spending. at a time this country is in incredibly difficult straits, we're having double-digit increases. and in the transportation department, he proposed a 62.4%. we've got to have high-speed rail of walking distance of 80% of all americans, or something like that. we don't have the money to do
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that. most of the high speed rails are not paying for themselves around the world. they can work in certain highly congested areas and good locations perhaps. but this idea we're going to have a mass napolitano interlocking system of maybe 7 billion of high speed rail is not realistic in the short term. but his budget calls for a 62% increase. we asked where the money was coming from. they said it's a tax. what kind of tax not a gas tax. what acts do you propose, mr. secretary, about the budget committee well, we'll talk with congress about that. the congressional budget office, who is required to analyze expenditures against revenues said that's not a proposal of revenue, and they scored that as all expenditure without any
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revenue, because we're not going to pass a big tax to increase this kind of spending. give me a break. if we do we ought to use some of that money to pay down the debt. not continue to surge spending in this fashion. i would just again like to point out that president bush in his last year in office had the largest deficit, i believe, the country had had at least in modern times, largest he had was 450 billion. that was large and it was roundly criticized. it included a lot of the tarp money that they threw in at the last minute. but what about president obama's first year? $1.2 trillion in deficit. the second kwraoerbgs $1.3b. and
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this year projected around $1.5 billion. $1,500,000,000. that's 2011 ending september 30. then september 12, he's got these kind of increases? what kind of responsible behavior 0 is that for the president of the united states to say that we need to truly solve our deficit problem, we need to take on spending in domestic programs, in defense programs and entitlement programs. and this is what we get as a proposal, to increase spending, double-digit rates basically? what is this? and there's no proposal what whatsoever to deal with entitlements, those long-term unsustainable programs threaten the future of our country
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economically. we're in more trouble right now than a lot of people realize from our debt situation. so, the only plan that the president put forward, as i said, are increasing these expenditures and not kopbl fronting entitlement programs at all -- and not confronting entitlement programs at all. and when the house members passed a far-reaching, historic, honest, fact-based budget, they would actually change the debt trajection of our country over a period of years. it was considered to be tough, but even it didn't balance within ten years. we're in a deep hole. it's hard to balance this budget. the house proposed that, and they laid out a plan after ten years for altering medicare, that would help put medicare back on a sound basis and all of it was just slammed by the
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president of the united states. he even had a speech at the white house, invited congressman ryan, the brilliant chairman of the house budget committee, to sit right in front of him and slammed his bill. why? he had courage and integrity and produced an honest budget that would have made an honest difference for america. while we may not all agree with everything in it, of course, but he didn't deserve to be hammered by the president of the united states -- united states. to begin to change the debt trajectory we're on, we need to cut at least $6 trillion in spending over ten years. that's not enough, really, but we need to do that, and if we do it, it will make a huge difference. $1.5 trillion or $2 trillion in cuts will not be enough.
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it will not be enough. the president's budget that he submitted in december, the only budget we have gotten from the democratic side would increase the debt in america by by $13 trillion. $1.5 trillion or $2 trillion in spending cuts is not enough, so we're long past the point when the president needs to share his vision with the country and admit he cannot keep up this spending rate. his budget was quite simply a failure to confront the reality that we don't have the money to keep up on unsustainable spending. according to bloomberg news, democrat officials claim that a deal will have to be reached between july 15 and july 22 -- quote -- "in order to write a bill and come play with the congressional rules requiring advanced publication before
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consideration." in other words, have at least three days to see the legislation. the presiding officer: the senator has used 10 minutes. mr. sessions: i thank the chair. i see my colleagues here. i would ask consent to have one additional moment. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sessions: so i have proposed legislation that would say we ought to have seven days to consider this historic piece of legislation that would raise the debt ceiling. we want to see how much change in spending the bill would mandate. in other words, if we're going to raise the debt ceiling because we have limited how much debt america can accrue, congress has, and to keep borrowing -- and we're borrowing 40 cents of every dollar we spend -- if we keep borrowing, we have to raise it. so what we're saying is -- and the american people i think are saying, okay, we don't like halving it, but if you raise it, you better show us that you have
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changed your ways, that you're not continuing this kind of reckless spending when we don't have the money. 40 cents, every bit of that increase is borrowed. every bit of it. we can't continue that. mr. president, i truly believe that congress needs to assert its role, step up and accept responsibility for the crisis we're in and begin to develop the procedures openly and publicly to get us out of this fix. i would thank the chair. i would yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. ms. klobuchar: mr. president, i rise today to speak about the daunting fiscal challenges that our country faces and the urgent need for comprehensive bipartisan action to address our nation's debt burden. as we debate the path to securing our country's fiscal future, greece is battling to
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keep from defaulting on its bonds. it's everywhere in the news. there are legitimate concerns that a default in greece would send shockwaves through the world financial markets with an impact potentially as devastating as the 2008 collapse of lehman brothers. to avert bankruptcy, greece has enacted austerity measures so drastic that violent rioting has broken out on its streets. despite these measures and despite the aid of other european countries, many economists believe that greece will eventually succumb to its rising debt burden and default. standard and poor's warned monday that even with the planned bailout by european banks, greece's credit rating could be still downgraded to selective default. while better than a full-blown default, this will almost certainly roil the markets and cut off greece's access to credit. alarmingly, standard and poor's gave a similar warning to the united states last week.
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in a statement to reuters, standard and poor's said it will drop the united states aaa rating to selective default if the treasury department misses its repayment on $30 billion in maturing bills on august 4. although our long-term fiscal challenges are serious, they are not what caused standard and poor's to issue this warning at this very moment. instead, what caused the warning was a growing concern that the united states congress would fail to come together to pass a bipartisan deal on the debt ceiling, something congress has done without incident almost 100 times since the limit was established. we must get serious about tackling the deficit and putting our country back on sound fiscal ground, but the problem we're facing now is not only a crisis of the dollars and the cents. it is also a crisis of the divide and the deadlock. we know what we need to do in order to avoid default and bring
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down the deficit. we have all the tools and information necessary to do it and to avoid a situation like we're seeing in greece, and yet instead of working together to craft a fair and responsible path forward, some have chosen to draw lines in the sand and take the debt limit and our nation's economy hostage. addressing our country's fiscal challenges is something i have taken seriously. since coming to the senate, i have worked to reform the way congress conducts its own business, reducing the budget of congress, fighting for appropriations project reform and working to restore the pay-as-you-go rules. i was one of a handful of senators, mr. president, that fought for the creation of the fiscal commission and i have supported efforts from both republicans and democrats to responsibly reduce the deficit. and while i believe we have reached a defining moment in a country which cannot be wasted, i also know that we can't afford
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to play russian roulette with our economy. what our country needs is for congress to come together and build consensus around a comprehensive long-term deficit reduction package that will put us on the track to pras parity. ever since the economic downturn, families across the country have huddled around the kitchen table, making tough choices about what they hold most dear and what they can learn to live without. they expect and deserve their leaders to do the same. the american people are counting on us to put politics aside, pull together, not pull apart and agree on a plan to live within our means and make america strong for the long haul. if we are going to succeed in this challenge, we will ultimately have to accept things that we don't necessarily agree with. it is the only way to develop a plan that is both balanced and comprehensive. we already know much of what will need to be done. our failure to act has not been because we lack solutions but
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because too often congress has lacked the political will to get behind a consensus proposal. after months of debate, it is clear what sort of plan is needed to garner the support necessary to get us across the finish line. first, the solution should match the scale of the problem. i'd like to see one that produces around $4 trillion in deficit reductions over the next decade. second, it should include a mix of revenue with realistic spending cuts. one example we're seeing right now, mr. president, in the area of biofuels. the biofuels industry has been willing to put a big chunk of change on the table, right in the middle of the year, right in the middle of the year as we're working with senator thune and senator feinstein on an agreement in which it would be a template where one industry says okay, we understand we have got a big problem here, we're willing to put money up front for the debt, we're willing to look at what we need to do in the long-term to have a secure energy policy but also to help
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with the debt and end this subsidy. we'd like to see oil, mr. president, do the same thing. we'd like to see a lot of these loopholes proposed, a lot of -- closed, a lot of these subsidies end and to do it in a smart way. the budget that senator conrad has been working on with the budget committee is an example of the mix of those revenues and spending cuts. that's what we have to look at, mr. president. third, we must be able to achieve bipartisan support with a proposal, which is why i continue to support the work that has been done by the gang of six. it is time we get serious about advancing a plan that is both fair and achievable. on august 2, the borrowing authority of the united states will be exhausted. no one benefits if we are unable to reach an agreement by this deadline. every day that passes without a deal only increases uncertainty in the markets and put the brakes on economic activity.
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failure to bring the national debt under control threatens america's future, but the danger of default threatens our economy today. the way i see it, we have two options. we can either set a precedent of holding our debt hostage to political maneuvering, raising the cost of borrowing and increasing our deficit or we can show the world that we are serious about addressing our fiscal challenges, reducing the cost of borrowing and strengthening our financial outlook. i believe in the choice is clear. the sooner we can agree on the long-term package, the better for our economy and the better for our country. i'm hoping that we can put partisan differences aside to work on an agenda that strengthens our economy, promotes fiscal responsibility and increases global competitiveness. because if we refuse to have an honest conversation about this, if we insist on using the debate as a vehicle for rhetoric only, we will not just be doing ourselves a disservice, we will be cheating our children and
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grandchildren out of knowing the america that we grew up in. the deficit isn't going to fix itself. we all know that. we all know that we can't just close our eyes and click our heels and wish the debts would just go away. in their report, the national commissions on fiscal responsibility wrote that every modest sacrifice we refuse to make today only forces far greater sacrifices of hope and opportunity upon the next generation, and they're right. the longer we wait, the more wrenching the choices become. just look at greece. and guess who is going to be making those painful choices -- our children and our children's children. none of us went to see interest rates soar by playing russian roulette with our economy. democrats don't want it, republicans don't want it. so what are we waiting for? it's time for congress to step up and show some leadership.
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it's time for us to work together to show the american people that washington isn't broken, that instead we're willing to put aside our politics to do what we were elected to do, to do what's right for america. this is our challenge, and it will be a hard challenge to meet, but i am confident that we can come together to make these tough choices, to do what's right for our economy and to renew the american promise of progress and opportunity for generations to come. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: i rise to talk, too, about the debt crisis that our nation is fixing and how we can come together to fix it. we do talk about how we're putting this debt on our children and our grandchildren. i want to tell you that time is on us right now, the bill is coming due. we're facing the most
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predictable crisis in our nation's history with our current financial situation. it's a problem we can all see and we can all acknowledge must be fixed. of course, acting is not as easy as talking. if it were that easy, we wouldn't be so far in debt. for some time, we have been talking about reining in spending and making sure that our grandchildren aren't saddled with the enormous debt that our country is facing. now we're facing the reality of reaching the debt ceiling, a cap that has increased to to $14 trillion. that's -- that's trillion with 12 zeros. more than $2 trillion over the previous debt limit of of $12 trillion. just a little over a year ago, in february of 2010. we have raised the debt ceiling 74 times since 1962, and we have raised the limit ten times since 2001. but listen to this. in the last four years, we have
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raised the debt ceiling five times. it's accelerating. what does this tell us about our spending habits? the numbers don't lie. it tells us that we have had to raise the debt ceiling to keep up with increased federal spending. it tells us we have forgotten entirely how to live within our means. it tells us we need to make serious decisions about cutting federal spending, and we need -- we need to make those decisions now. we have all been talking about it. republicans have come to the senate floor and talked about the country's financial future. they have talked about our debt, projections for the future, and agreed the path is unsustainable. republican and democratic administrations in congresses for decades have continually increased federal spending. no one party holds all the blame for the situation we're in. but clearly the road we are traveling on is leading to a
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crisis. last week the president held a press conference where he lectured republican members of congress -- he told us that we need to stay in washington to get things done. after listening to his press conference, we invited the president to meet with senate republicans. we hoped to explain to the president the political reality makes it so that a bill containing tax increases cannot pass the house or the senate. after lecturing us about the need to be in washington and the need to get our work done, one would assume that the president would take us up on our touser meet. instead, his spokesperson said, meeting with senate republicans was -- quote -- "nationa -- quoa conversation worth having." rather than staying in washington to work on the debt on the one hand drveghts the president chose to fly to a fund-raiser in philadelphia. republicans have been engaged in efforts to fix the debt and deficit since the election last fall.
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house republicans passed a serious budget that could cut $6.2 trillion over the next decade. not enough, but substantial. after demagoguing the ryan budget as an effort to kill medicare and push grandma off the cliff, senate democrats have yet to bring any budget to the floor. i heard just a few minutes ago that it's being considered in a very partisan way and i don't know if we'll goat see it before it comes to the floor. but we've gone 800 days without passing any sort of budget. even though the media reported that senate democrats have reached a budget agreement, they still haven't brought the budget to the floor or shared it with republicans. why? i can only assume it's because it includes trillions of dollars in tax increases that would be unpalatable to the majority of americans. now, the president presented a budget and we voted on that budget. in fact, it was voted on 0-97.
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the president couldn't get a single vote for his budget. i didn't see that in many headlines, but it happened. check on t while democrats continue to ignore the problem, republicans look for solutions. all 47 senate republicans have signed on as cosponsors of a constitutional amendment to balance the budget. senator toomey and senator paul put forward their own budget efforts that would balance the budget. i've introduced legislation that creates two-year budgeting and other legislation that would reduce spending by 1% each year for seven years until we balance the budget. if congress can't reduce spending by a single percentage point each year, it basically has given up. and decided to leave this huge and growing pile of debt to tower over our children and our grandchildren and us.
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casting a grand shadow over their future and ours. i remember hearing that we had in the finance committee and pretty much what everybody said was, quit digging. you're in a big hole. quit dig. and phil gramm talked on taxes and said, don't penalize america with a tax every time that congress fails to do its job, which is to balance the budget. to spend reasonably. failure on congress's part doesn't warrant taxing americans. so where do we go from here? republicans are ready to work, but we need democrats to work with us. we need the president to take a realistic look at the situation and realize that tax increases are not the answer because the votes aren't there to pass a tax increase. we need to come up with a solution to the budget crisis we face, and we need to do it now. if we're serious about fixing the problem, and i believe many
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of us are, we have to come to the table willing to work. we have to stop pointing fingers, twoaf stop playing political games, we have to stop demagoguing ideas that are proposed. we need the president to step up to the plate and explain to the american people the problem we face if we don't get our debt and deficit under control and then to give the solutions, not just tax raises. the president is the only person in the nation who has the bully pulpit necessary to teach the american people what happens if we don't get a budget and don't get timely appropriations. the president has talked about some of the taxes that he would increase, the deficit commission suggested that those taxes could be used, but they suggested that they should be used to lower company rates so that we can compete internationally, which
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would increase revenues. they didn't suggest that they should be used to pay for new programs. they're not even be suggested to reduce the deficit. now, rather than taking the lead in selling the plan, the president has tried to stay above the fray and instead spent his time criticizing republicans who have come up with a variety of plans. that isn't productive. it isn't helpful. it won't lead to a deal. we need to end the finger-pointing and show the plan, show us the plan. bipartisanship is not really about compromise -- bipartisan hispanic is not really about compromise -- bipartisanship is not really about compromise. it is what about what you leave out. we're finding a way to reach a mutually agreeable role and it works. the late-senator ted kennedy and
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i worked together on the "help" committee. we chose to focus our time and energy on what we knew we could get done t amazed people but we sure got results. all in all, when senator kennedy and i led the "help" committee, we got 35 bills reported otoof committee and 27 signed into law. these kind of results are possible today but we have to really get to work. we can't just keep raising the debt ceiling. we can't just tax more every time we have a good idea. twoaf address the spending problem in -- we have to address the spending problem in war and we have to figure out some solutions to correct our long-term budget outlook. these aren't easy issues to address. but we've been sent here to do a job and that job includes rolling up our sleeves and finding a way out of the mess. we're here through this july recess, but we're still not doing anything proactive,
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productive. the democrats are the senate majority. they control the floor. yesterday we did a nothing vote to see if everybody was back. we want to vote. we won't vote until tomorrow now and it's just a political ploy put up bid leader. it's messaging and messaging won't pay the bills. let's get something done this session. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. mr. kerry: thank you, madam president. madam president, what's the order at this point? the presiding officer: we're in morning business until 6:00
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with 10 minutes for grants. mr. kerry: it is my understanding, madam president -- i would ask unanimous consent i be able to proceed for 30 minutes. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered. mr. kerry: i thank the chair. madam president, i listened to my colleague just now, and i've listened to colleagues over the last weeks, and there are a lot of crocodile tears being shed on the floor of the united states senate. -- about why we're not doing something, all of which completely ignore the fact that everything we try to do, the folks on that side of the aisle make us take longer and longer and longer than we've ever taken before because they push every single procedural objection possible so that even the most routine thing that we try to do
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on the floor of the senate requires 60 votes, requires a motion to proceed. the most prey funktory, simple thing -- the most perfunctory, simple thing requires us to go through every procedural hoop that the parliamentary process can do because they have consistently pursued a strategy aimed at gridlock. make americans see the dysfunction and then blame it on the party in power and run against them. it's the most cynical, craven, and dangerous policy that i've ever seen in the 27 years that i've been here in the senate. and i regret it for our country. there is a reason that democrats are standing for a matter of principle against the ryan budget and against the proposals that our republican friends keep coming back with: because they're the only party
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and they are the only people who have consistently stood up and said, we're not going to consider everything; we're just going to give you a tiny little menu. and you got to balance the budget out of spending cuts only. that's all that's in their budget. the only thing in their budget are spending cuts. 12% of the entire budget is all this they've put on the table in order to try to do something responsible about the deficit of our country. we, on the other hand, have consistently said, we'll put everything on the table -- everything: medicare, medicaid, reforms -- not benefits; we're not going to cut the benefits on people, because you don't have to in order to deal with this problem. but we can reform them. we can certainly be more effective and efficient. and we're prepared to do that. there are a lot of other things
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that we're prepared to do. defense spending, the wars, a whole series of things. mr. president -- madam president, last week one of our newest colleagues made a very interesting, and i thought revealing, observation. the senator from delaware, chris coons, who balanced budgets in county government, who took cases all the way to the supreme court, who has seen decisions made in the business world as well as in the nonprofit world, he is an enormously capable person, new to the senate, and he made the observation that some people are actually looking into the language of the 14th amendment and the debt limit in order to learn whether -- and i quote -- "there might be some way to save us from ourselves." that observation brought home to me how absurd this place must look right now, not just to a
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new senator who came here with hopes of getting the business of our nation done but to the average american, to people who invest in the extraordinary mythology that surrounds this great institution we're all part of, greatest deliberative body in the world. you can laugh at that one today. there's an absence of deliberation, a great absence of deliberation, but there is an absence of it. and i think a lot of people are really alarmed by the dysfunction that they see with respect to this great institution. it's extraordinary that we have to look at the language of the constitution to find possible ways to do what congress and the senate are supposed to do on their own. take tough votes, look at the tough issues, make tough
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decisions, but most importantly, do it in the interest of the united states of america, not in the interest of either party or of some ideology. here we are less than five weeks from august 2, the day the united states government will default on its obligations for the first time in our history, and washington is still playing the same old political games, a dangerous game of chicken, with enormous consequences for our economy and our future in every respect: economic, social, national security. madam president, i hear this -- in recent travels senator mccain and i were in egypt recently, we got people turning to us and saying, hey, how about you guys? can you get your act together before you are telling telling y else what they ought to be doing with respect to their future? you're promoting democracy. how is your democracy doing back
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there in the united states? working out all right right now? washington is stuck, and it's stuck because we've got a few ideologues, and some people outside of the united states senate who cower our fellow colleagues with threats of primaries -- people are going 0 to run against them if they move off of the orthodoxy of extremism. and the result is that nothing is happening. fear -- fear has gripped the united states senators who raise their right hand and said, i swear to uphold the constitution of the united states. well, everyone here, i think, acknowledges that defaulting on our obligations would be disastrous for our country. everyone here simultaneously says they don't want the default to happen. but here we are with a small minority holding the debt limit hostage to an idiological agenda, saying they will not
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consider an approach that most observers consider indispensable and reasonable in reaching an equitable solution to our crisis. now, frankly, the consequences of not doing something are not far off in the future. every day that we are here not getting this decision made, we are weakening our economy and we're making our government and through it our country look helpless. and adrift. and the fact is, it is already having consequences with respect to business decisions. capital is holding back. business people are reluctant to invest, uncertain of what the budget of the united states is going to look like, uncertain of what kind of signals we will send to the marketplace. i mean, certainty -- i keep hearing colleagues say we have to send certainty. but when they look at this chaotic debate, what kind of certainty could any business person possibly take from what is not happening in washington
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today? our friends on the other side of the aisle say they want create jobs but moody's chief economist, mark zandi, has said that hiring is only going to resume if we can get our act together and settle this debate, and the sooner the better. at the beginning of the month, moody's announced that it might downgrade our country's credit rating if congress isn't able to come to an agreement by the middle of just a moment that's a week away. and if that happens, i promise you, our economic recovery is going to halt in its tracks. maybe some people want that. i hope not. but today, investors are looking at the scene here in congress and they're wondering if we're ever going to get it together. and the longer we wait to get serious, the higher the interest rates are going to move and that hurts everyone in america. everyone who owns a home or runs a small business is going to be squeezed while congress is in this ideological standoff.
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now, you read david brooks' column this morning in "the new york times," a brilliant column talking about the unreasonableness of this position that something is absolutely off the table with respect to this discussion. recently, 235 economists, including six nobel prize winners, sent a letter to congressional leadership urging them to raise the debt limit immediately. not doing so, they said, could have a substantial negative impact on economic growth at a time when the economy looks a bit shaky. and at worst case, it could push the united states back into recession. so are we going to listen to 235 economists, including six nobel price winners, or are -- nobel prize winners, or are we going to be driven by this extremist position that doesn't allow for reasonable discussion about what ought to be on the table? i think this is a dangerous and
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irresponsible moment in our country. not raising the debt limit would result in a crisis in our country far more severe than the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009. the consequences would include any number of things, from increases in state and local government borrowing costs, increases in corporate borrowing costs, including mortgage interest, declines in equity prices and home values, declines in 401(k) and other retirement savings. reductions in the willingness of investors here and around the world to invest in the united states, and job losses on a significant scale. now, i've, as i've said, you know, madam president, i don't believe that's going to happen but the question is, are we going to get a deal that hurts america or helps america? if we eat america's seed corn in this deal -- by that, i mean, don't invest in america's infrastructure, don't invest in
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education, don't invest in the research and development that's so critical to the creation of new jobs -- if all we do is do what the other folks in the house said we ought to do by massively just looking at 12% of the budget and cutting spending, if that's all we do, we will eat america's seed corn. and the next generation will pay the price because we will go into an economic downslide unlike anything we have seen in recent memory. in 1983, president reagan wrote, "the denigration of the full faith and credit of the united states would have substantial effects on domestic financial markets, on the value of the dollar and exchange markets, and the nation can ill afford such a result." and nearly 30 years later we are facing that kind of incalculable damage. the fact is, chamber unanimousy and secretary geithner have already used extraordinary measures to try to keep the nation from default and keep the economy moving.
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i'm not going to talk more at this time about the downside effects of it but i believe there are better choices that we face. this is not half as complicated as some have chosen to make it. in fact, i don't think we're as far apart in this debate when you talk to a lot of our reasonable colleagues on the other side of the aisle, as some want to imply. everybody can agree deficits too high. we can all agree we shouldn't be borrowing 40 cents on every dollar that we spend. we can all agree we need about $4 trillion in deficit reduction to put us on a sustainable path. but in the end, this budget debate cannot be just about cutting spending, even though must include cutting spending. everyone has said that job creation and investments in clean energy infrastructure and
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medical research are essential, and i think we need to do the things that would make our economy move. let me give an example of this. in america today, we are living off of the investments that our parents and our grandparents made. the interstate highway system didn't just sprout up one day. it was a government program, investing taxpayer dollars in building a nationwide road system that helped america to grow and be unparalleled in its strength compared to any other nation in the world. that was a president eisenhower program. and the truth is that today we are falling further and further behind other nations in terms of our investment in the infrastructure of the future. the united states is spending less than 2% of its g.d.p. on
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infrastructure. compare that, china is spending 9% of g.d.p. on infrastructure. europe is spending 5% of g.d.p. on infrastructure. they have trains and airports and other things that work and get people faster than our trains where they want to go. we're -- we're looking at a country now that has about a $2.2 trillion deficit in the infrastructure of our nation. we've got 69,000-plus bridges that are structurally deficient. we need to invest in them so they don't fall down, like the bridge over the mississippi river. we need to invest in -- in our airport structure so we don't have airport delays or potential of collisions in our aircraft. according to one study, $1 billion in infrastructure -- investment in infrastructure results in 18,000 jobs. so at a time when america is begging for more jobs, why would
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we not be investing in infrastructure in this country? you go to germany or brazil, they're investing huge amounts in their future. and right now, both countries are threatening to leave the united states behind with respect to alternative and clean energy investments of the futu future. now, millions of americans know that we can do a lot better, frankly. in the 1980's, you couldn't find more three ideologically different people than tip o'neill, bob dole, and ronald reagan. but they put politics aside and they saved social security, and they didn't capitulate, they compromised. they found the common ground. they did it because they knew america's future was more important than either party. now, i often hear my colleagues on the other side of the aisle only talking about the spending problems of the country. madam president, could i ask how much time i have used?
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the presiding officer: the senator has used 14 minutes. mr. kerry: thank you. i often hear my colleagues talking about the spending problem, but what they forget about is we had a surplus that we created in the 1990's by making the tough decisions. we invested in the future of our country and we created 23 million new jobs. and in the 1990's, when we balanced the budget, let's not forget that. some of us were here and made those tough votes and we balanced the budget and we created 23 million jobs. every income level in america went up. every single income level. and we did it at a time, madam president, when the total relationship of spending to g.d.p. was exactly where many of
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us believe we ought to take it today, somewhere around 21% or 22%. the fact is that it was president bush's tax cuts for the wealthiest americans that we couldn't afford and a war that he refused to pay for in iraq and then afghanistan -- or afghanistan, then iraq. both wars totaling well over a trillion, $2 trillion. that will ultimately, both of those, the tax cuts and the wars, accounts for about $7 trillion in deficits in 2009 and going forward. now, madam president, the facts are clear. the tax cuts that president bush put in place contributed to the deficit and the revenues have got to be addressed if we're employing to go forward -- if we're going to go forward and deal with this. federal revenues today, the money the government takes in, is at its lowest level since
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1950. we've had a 60% reduction in revenue and a 60% increase in expenditures. and right now, we're at the lowest level of revenue taken in that we've been at since the 1950's. and there are only about 14% of the total g.d.p. the fact is that the last five times we balanced the budget, those revenues were about19% or 20% of g.d.p. so here we are at 14%. we've balanced the budget five times previously. and the revenues were at about 19.5% to 20% of g.d.p. doesn't that tell us something? now, there's another problem that we have. it's right here on my desk. we have a tax code.
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the tax code has eight volumes. over 72,00 2 72,500 pages. this is the internal revenue code, 4,052 pages. i would ask any american, do you have your own page in this tax code? how many americans have their own page in this tax code? well, i got news for you. 72,500 entities -- a lot of businesses -- have found a way to get their little break in the tax code. last month, the senate by a vote of 73-27 sent a clear signal we ought to start looking at some of these subsidies. this entire tax code is riddled with special deals which lobbyists have worked against the interest of average americans in most cases.
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let me give you a couple examples. section 168 in this code has a special rule for racehorse depreciation. how many folks in america are worried about their racehorse today and the depreciation on it? they've got a provision in here that allows the depreciation of racehorses to go from seven years to three years, and those difference of seven years to three years costs the average american money. the average american is supporting that because it's a foregone revenue. we're giving away the revenue and we're giving it back to somebody who doesn't fundamentally need it. the tax code includes a definition of three-year property. get this. any horse other than a racehorse which is more than 12 years old at the time that it's placed in service. i mean, who wrielt writes this ? where does this come from? not only is that a waste of taxpayer money, it makes the tax
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code more complex, it requires more regulations and more confusion. a lot of tax lawyers love this, these eight volumes, but the average american ought to be furious at these volumes because these volumes are stealing america's opportunities in a host of other choices that we could be making, like education, investment in energy, energy independence, taking care of our veterans, doing a whole bunch of things that are substitutes for some of the choices that are made. let me give you a couple of other examples. on april -- this is -- here's a provision, it's included in one of the regulations. on april 2000, e acquires a horse to be used in e's thoroughbred racing on october 2003. f buys the horse from e and will use the horse in f's horse breeding business. the use of the horse by e in its racing business prevents the original use of the horse from
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commencing with f. thus, f's purchase price of the horse does not qualify for the additional first-year depreciation deduction. i mean, how ridiculous can it get that we're getting into specific cases like that which run contrary to the sort of commonsense of average americans? you know, you've got to be able to afford a lobbyist to be on one of these pages. last year more than $3.5 billion was spent on lobbying in washington, d.c. there are more than 13,000 lobbyists trying to influence legislation in washington. and, believe me, it works. look at the last 50 years. back in 2004, we passed a bill which the "new york times" described as including -- this is -- quote -- "goodies for almost every kind of corporation" and that -- quote -- "perhaps the most amazing
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provision might be called the foreign gambler relief act. under prior law, if you're lucky and you win big at the horse or dog track, your wings are subject to a with -- your winning are subject to a withholding tax. but now foreigners don't have to pay tax on their winnings. they found a lobbyist and they got it in the tax code, and we passed it somehow." section 872 of the tax code excludes gross income from -- excludes from gross income -- quote -- "income derived from wagering transaction in certain paramutual pools. it especially says gross income derived by a nonresident alien individual from a legal wagering transaction initiated outside the united states in a paramutual pool with respect to a live horse race or dog race in the united states." until i read this, i wasn't
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absolutely certain what a paramutual pool was, but i do know that a provision like that does not get in here without lobbying, and it comes at the expense of a lot of other choices. because the problem is all these breaks in here, whether it's subsidies for oil, subsidies for gas exploration, which made sense 60 and 70 years ago, but here we are with record profits coming into these companies. $35 billion of profit just for the last quarter, three months. and yet, they get a break. and that break comes at the expense of average folks having the school that they deserve, having the road that they want to ride on properly, having decent public transportation. those are the choices, and those are some of the things that we're fighting for here. one of the other things that we're fighting for -- there are a bunch of these. i don't have time to go into all of them now.
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but let me just say that we need to think hard about what's fair in america. the only tax that president obama or we democrats have talked about is the wealthiest people, millionaires, people earning more than $1 million a year. that's about 7 thousand-plus lucky families and individuals in the united states. all we're doing is talking about asking them who benefit enormously from the strength of our economy and the strength of our military and all the things we need to do, we're just asking them, is it really too much to go from 36.9% up to 39.6%, which is where they were in the year
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2000, before president bush gave them a tax cut we couldn't pay for. it's not as if they've done badly these last ten years. the fact is that more wealth has been accumulated in the hands of the smallest part of america, the top 1%, than at any time in america's history. the wealthy today are far wealthier than when we had no income tax and when we had the great names of the 1920's and 1930's and the industrial revolution, carnegies, melons, rockefeller and so forth. much wealthier today. and yet, they're paying far less of their share than at any time in modern history. here we are with a deficit problem. they're talking about cutting medicaid. they're talking about cutting medicare. they're talking about cutting
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education loans, making it more expensive for kids to go to college. the one thing we desperately need in order to compete with the rest of the world, people who have got college education. so, i don't hear anybody in america saying, hey, make it harder for my kid to go to college. but that's what they're doing in their budget. it's exactly what they do. but they stand up adamantly and say no way we will allow people earning more than $1 million a year to pay anything additional into the system. it's just wrong. it's morally wrong. it's repugnant that in this country we are condoning the institutionalization of a larger and larger gap between the haves and the have-nots, between the people who have already gotten their brass ring and the people who are trying to reach it. that is not the american story. and i believe that we need to fight to have a balanced
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approach. president obama and the democratic proposals that i've seen and we've talked about -- and i hope people will hear more about in the next days -- give a tax cut to about 98% of america. 98% of america gets a tax cut. the only people we're talking about trying to ask kick in to give some more revenue are people earning the most. if you're earning $5,000 a year in a day, you would not pay any additional tax on your first $250,000. so on the next $250,000, all you'd pay is $12,000 of additional tax. let me ask you -- no, i will say, madam president, i know this. there isn't one businessperson, there isn't one millionaire for whom $12,000 will change one consumer purchase, one decision of investment. not one. and all this talk about how it will slow down the economy or
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hurt america is just bunk. it's not true. so we need to have a real discussion. we need to have a real effort here that i think matches the greatness of this institution with this moment. this can be the world's greatest deliberative body. but we need to put all of these issues on the table. we need to debate them openly. we need to have the courage of our convictions, vote up or down, and do what is needed to put our country on track. because right now we are losing countless investment opportunities, countless job opportunities. and if we don't make the right choices here, we are going to have a very difficult time living up to the promise that all of us hope to live up to in our time here in this office. i thank the chair. i ask unanimous consent the full text be placed in the record as if read in full. the presiding officer: without
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objection. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. mccain: madam president, i ask unanimous consent for 15 minutes to address this body as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mccain: madam president, it is well known to all americans that i've observed and certainly the media and certainly members of this body and the congress that the debt limit talks are bogged down, that there has been little, if any, progress, certainly not any perceptible to the american people. and we are in a gridlock, a gridlock that is not favored by many americans. in fact, i continue to hear from my constituents the call why can't you all sit down and work this out? why can't we not be faced with a shutdown of the government and
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the loss of the important services that the federal government gives to the american people, phoefrt of which they have earned and all of which they deserve? so here we are with the president of the united states demanding that there be tax increases, and the republicans, as certainly many of them are insisting on a balanced budget amendment which cannot pass the congress of the united states. so, on the one hand, president obama and my friends on the other side of the aisle insist on tax increases and argue somewhat inflammatory and populist issues such as corporate jets, carried interest for private equity, oil and gas, and those are hard. those are hard to defend. at the same time it is very clear that the american people
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spoke and administered what the president of the united states called a shellacking last november, that they want us to stop mortgaging our children's and our grandchildren's future and get the spending under control. and i have yet to meet a constituent who wants their taxes increased. so, we are in a gridlock. there will be a meeting tomorrow on the debt crisis. again, this time between the president and leaders of congress. and we will all succeed. but it is my view the way to break this gridlock is to agree, is to agree to certain tax increases and closing loopholes, but only in return for an overall reduction of the corporate tax rate. that way republicans can say that we have not raised taxes
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overall, and the administration and the democrats can say that they eliminated loopholes and indeed made the taxation of americans more fair. so it's time we got serious. the debt, as we all know, is $50,000 for every man, woman, and child living in america today. and that's why we have seen a rise *ft tea party and -- a rise of the tea party and of fiscal conservativism. i hope that tomorrow's meeting -- by the way, i hope that these negotiations could be made visible to the american public by c-span so that they can see what's being discussed here. as i said, the debt stands at $14.5 trillion. we can't continued to sit idly by while saddling future
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generations of americans with the burden. if we're serious about our commitment to reduce our debt, eliminate the deficit, then congress needs to start making some serious decisions, and we need to start now. i'd like to remind my colleagues, particularly in light of the impassioned speech i just listened to from my friend from massachusetts, here's what president obama's thoughts on the debt limit were in 2006, when he was a member of this body. aeupbd quote him from a speech -- and i quote him from a speech he made on the floor of the senate. -- and i quote -- "the fact that we are here today to debate raising america's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. it's a sign that the u.s. government can't pay its own bills. it's a sign we now depending on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our government's reckless fiscal policies. increasing america's debt weakens us domestically and internationally. leadership means that the buck stops here. instead washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today
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on to the backs of our children and grandchildren. america has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. americans deserve better. said then-senator barack obama on the floor of this senate. i guess it shows that on some issues with then-senator barack obama, it's not where you stand. it's where you sit. so, i couldn't agree more with what then-senator obama said in 2006. americans do deserve better. and we're in this mess today because of a serious lack of leadership. and it's not the fault of just one of the political parties. it's the fault of both parties. year after year of uncontrolled spending by both republicans and democrats have brought us to the brink of bankruptcy and the point on which we'll begin to
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default on our obligations. it should be inconceivable that the greatest nation in the history of the world would face such a crippling debt while its leaders engage in partisan bickering instead of solving the problems. i'd like to bring to your attention the lead editorial of today's "wall street journal" which i believe holds the answer, as i said to, this stalemate. i quote from the editorial -- madam president, i ask unanimous consent that today's editorial in the "wall street journal" entitled "a debt limit breakout" be included in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mccain: and i quote from it -- quote -- "the debt limit talks in washington are bogged down in the hedge groves with some republicans insisting on a balanced budget amendment that can't pass congress, and president obama insisting on tax increases that republicans oppose. what this debate needs is a breakout strategy, to wit, republicans should answer mr. obama's tax call by
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accepting his business tax increases in return for a lower corporate tax rate." the "wall street journal" goes on to say "we've long favored such reform and last year so did the simpson-bowles deficit commission and the white house advisory council headed by paul volcker. but it has required no less a convert than bill clinton. speaking at the aspen ideals festival, the fortunatelyer president admitted he -- the former president admitted he once raised tax breaks on corporations. "it made sense when i did it. it doesn't make sense anymore. we've got an uncompetitive rate." he said "we tax at 35% of income, although we only take about 23%. so we should cut the rate to 25% or whatever is competitive and eliminate a lot of the deductions so that we still get a fair amount and there's not so much variance in what the corporations pay."
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the editorial goes on to say -- "anyone not in thrall of class war symbolism understands that the u.s. corporate tax code provides the worst of both worlds. it makes u.s. companies less competitive, even as it raises much less revenue than advertised. mr. obama and secretary of state tim geithner have acknowledged this in the past. the president as recently in this year's state of the union address. as for the debt limit politics, this is also a winner. democrats and republicans say they have agreed privately on sizable spending cuts over a ten-year budget window. no doubt, some of those cuts are less real than others, and future congresses could rewrite any enforcement provisions passed this year. but republicans still have an incentive to set spending on a downward path, and mr. obama has an incentive to show he is no longer a hostage of nancy pelosi as he runs for re-election. the political sticking point is
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mr. obama's desire for some republican buy-in on raising revenues. his political left is still sore that he agreed to extend the bush tax rates through 2012. thus he's pounding republicans to agree to eliminate certain business tax deductions that political advisors david axelrod and david fluff have told him would be hard for republicans to defend, private jets, deductions for oil and gas, and those which few understand but can be made to sound nefarious. whatever their individual merits, each would be a tax increase on business, and republicans campaigned last year on not raising taxes. but the politics is different. if they can offset these revenue raisers with lower tax rates, that would let republicans honestly claim they didn't support a net tax increase, even as mr. obama could say that he
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raised revenue. our own guess is that such a reform would raise far more money than the official scorers would predict since it would lead to a more efficient allocation of capital and less tax evasion. this would also promote economic growth. breaking out of the austerity mentality driven by debt reduction. if mr. obama really is worried that lower federal spending will hurt the economy, then this tax reform is also his best growth policy. the journal argues that we can offset the cost of businesses -- to businesses of closing loopholes and eliminating subsidies with a cut in the corporate tax rate. i completely agree. we should be open-minded when considering what should be eliminated. for instance, the distorting effect of subsidies is clearly evidence in the energy sector. we should eliminate these subsidies, lower the corporate tax rate and allow the marketplace to pick winners and losers, not the government.
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ethanol tax is a perfect example. a recent -- this year the ethanol tax credit cost taxpayers almost $6 billion. in addition to the $41.2 billion we have already spent in subsidies on ethanol since 1980. a recent c.r.s., congressional research service report, indicates that tax credits and subsidies for solar, wind and geothermal power would cost cost $6.8 billion from 2008- 2008-2012. for the oil and gas industry, the eight tax breaks recommended for elimination by president obama would eliminate eliminate $43.6 billion in spending over ten years. the largest amongst these tax breaks is the section 199 manufacturing tax credit that will cost approximately approximately $18 billion over ten years. we should eliminate the section 199 tax subsidies for all industries to avoid arbitrarily picking winners and losers. why should we value
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manufacturing over other service providers? additionally, we should eliminate all agricultural subsidies including sugar programs, end corporate welfare, end tax breaks for corporations for things like corporate jets. we need to put aside the rhetoric of corporate jets, which is just a poll-tested political phrase concocted behind one-way mirrors. everyone knows that eliminating all tax breaks on corporate jets won't amount to any real progress, but if we seriously looked at curbing corporate subsidies, all americans would benefit. i think the need -- i feel the need to provide my colleagues with some straight talk. as the journal notes, some of my republican colleagues are -- quote -- "insisting on a balanced budget amendment that can't pass congress." let me be clear. i'm an avid supporter of a balanced budget amendment to the
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constitution. since 1983, i have introduced or cosponsored more than a dozen bills or amendments calling for a balanced budget amendment, and i have had the privilege of voting in favor of a balanced budget amendment to the constitution no less than 13 times in my congressional career. i applaud my colleagues for their tireless dedication to this cause, but our reality today dictates that we don't have the votes in this body to enact such a measure. perhaps that will change after next year. i hope so. but for our purposes today, in order to avoid what would be disastrous consequences for our markets, our economy as a whole and our standing in the world, i encourage my colleagues to lay aside at least temporarily their insistence that amending the constitution be a condition of their support for a solution to this terrible problem.
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"the wall street journal" editorial ends with this. "think about it. on the current path, both sides are headed at best for a de minimus deal that makes everyone look bad. at worst, for a major political crackup. perhaps mr. obama wants a crackup to portray republicans as extreme, as my colleague from massachusetts just did, but republicans at least call his bluff and answer his demands for fewer business tax deductions by saying yes, in return for lower taxes. i couldn't agree with the "wall street journal" more. this debate desperately needs a breakout strategy. i'm pleased to see that president clinton has joined "the wall street journal" in embracing a commonsense solution to this problem. i hope that president obama will follow former president clinton's lead and the example set by the great ronald reagan,
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put aside politics, work with the congress on this matter and accept a compromise that will allow us to responsibly deal with our debt while creating jobs and spurring economic growth. i'd like to point out again the average effective corporate rate varies by industry, but it's far less than the 35% rate, and the injustice is that some pay much less than others if they can afford lobbyists to write loopholes or they invest in politically correct purposes. anyone not in thrall of class war symbolism understands that the u.s. corporate tax code provides the worst of both worlds. it makes u.s. companies less competitive even as it raises much less revenue than advertised. so the fact is that the corporate tax code needs to be reformed anyway and we need to cut it to 25%. it is either the first or the
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second highest tax rate in the world, yet somehow major corporations like whirlpool and g.e. end up paying no taxes, but yet small business people who can't afford a lobbyist here in washington end up paying the 35% rates if they are incorporated. so it's time we sat down, it's time i -- madam president, i ask for an additional two minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mccain: it's time, it's time, it's time we tell the american people who are frustrated by our lack of leadership, by our failure to come together. it's time to fulfill the commitment that we made to the american people last november who resoundingly sent the message that they want the spending cut and the mortgaging of our children's future stopped. this is a reasonable proposal
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that i believe with spending cuts will be a breakthrough and we can proudly return to our constituents and say that we are taking care of them, not the intints and not high-bound ideology. madam president, i yield the floor. mr. udall: madam president? i ask unanimous consent that the time for debate under the previous order be extended until 7:00 p.m. with all other provisions of the previous order remaining in effect. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. udall: madam president, i'd ask unanimous consent that i be able to speak for 15 minutes as if in morning business and then senator coons be allowed to speak as if in morning business for ten minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. udall: madam president, i rise today -- let me start over, madam president. i believe we may be in a situation where we're exchanging speeches, one side or the other.
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can i withdraw my unanimous consent to approve senator coons? the presiding officer: consent is vitiated. mr. udall: all right, madam president, thank you. i came to the floor to deliver a speech on the debt ceiling and all the activity surrounding the need to increase our debt ceiling, but i took time to listen to senator mccain while i was here. i have to say that i agree with senator mccain, we need a breakout strategy. we need cooler heads to prevail here today. i think many if not all of us could agree that our tax system is overly complex. it ought to be simplified. we ought to lower rates. we ought to end the loopholes and subsidies and deductions and let the free market reign. i look forward to working with the senator from arizona as we hopefully -- and hope sometimes is a strategy, but we get an agreement, a broad agreement, we go big. we deal with our debt. we strengthen our entitlement programs. we reduce spending and we also
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find some ways to generate more revenue. i thank the senator from arizona for his comments. madam president, i rise as i just implied because i think the fiscal challenges that confront us to demand a bipartisan solution. now, both parties approach the issues before us from very different points of view, but time is truly running out on our nation, the structural deficits and our long-term debt and the need for us to address those, and i want leaders in both parties to show genuine commitment to action. how about if we set aside our talking points so that we can get some work done. if any other members believe that the solution to our deficits and debt demand a comprehensive and bipartisan solution like the fiscal commission or the gang of six, i would invite them to come down to the floor and let our colleagues know. we're clearly racing towards a crisis. it just seems like we can't let go of the partisanship and the political posturing that creates
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gridlock here in the capitol city of washington. it sure strikes me as childish. i think it strikes many americans and coloradans as that way as well. we're more broadly having this debate because the time is upon us to decide the economic future of our country. yes, we have got to raise the national debt but this is about our economic future, and this is the country that will be inherited by our children and their grandchildren, and quite simply, madam president, we're not going to win the global economic race of this 21st century unless we start taking action now to improve our economy, grow american jobs and get our debt under control. with these challenges as large as they are facing us, this is the time to set aside our political differences and challenge ourselves to put our country first. a few basic facts, madam president, i think focus the attention. our national debt is is $14 trillion and it's
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growing. today a citizen's share of that debt is over $46,000 per individual. if we remain on this path, which is irresponsible, there is no question about that, the government accountability office projects that by 2050, our nation could owe more interest on our debt than the federal government raises in taxes in a given year. and our skyrocketing debt not only is spooking the international financial markets, but it's a serious threat to our national security. listen to secretary of defense gates or chairman of the joint chiefs admiral mullen. they will make that point in a compelling fashion. now, we got here in ways that aren't simple, but unquestionably two unpaid for wars, twos rounds of massive tax cuts, on unpaid-for prescription drug benefit, and drastic reese skew measures needed to address the most serious economic downturn since the great depressionav
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